I just finished listening to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on Audible, and I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about modern American society.
A ton of people have read it already, but this book provides a vital window into race relations and socioeconomic issues in the US — in how they impact one family.
Overall, The Hate U Give is a well-paced story with interesting and distinct characters. Star is an insightful and entertaining narrator, and hearing the way she navigates social interactions between Garden Heights (her neighborhood) and Williamson (her prep school) is fantastic. The other characters provide some great perspectives as well. I was particularly fond of Star’s dad, Maverick.
The story moves quickly from the death of Khalil Harris, Star’s childhood friend, to the result of the grand jury case against the police officer who killed him.
It’s not difficult to predict how the story ends, but I think the ending is beside the point. Through trying to deal with this tragedy while splitting her life between her two worlds, Star learns that she must use her voice as a weapon.
By going through that journey with her, the reader understands Star’s pain: basically, that the system is stacked against her, her family, and her forgotten neighborhood.
I took a lot of Star’s commentary and interactions with her family/friends to heart. One aspect of Khalil’s death she focuses on is sympathy. She does not want sympathy from anyone about her friend being killed right in front of her. She wants justice. She wants the media, the police, and the people outside of Garden Heights to treat Khalil fairly. And when they don’t, she says ‘F*ck it!’ and uses her voice to speak out against them.
But the metaphor is clear. ‘Thoughts and prayers’ only go so far when someone is unjustifiably killed by police, when minority communities at large are treated unfairly by a system designed to ‘Other’ them.
Offering sympathy or condescending excuses like, ‘Try to see it from the officer’s side’, cannot undo the damage wrought by that system.
Voices matter. Protests matter. And of course, Black Lives Matter.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas should be on every high school curriculum.