The other day, a friend of mine at work (KerryAnn), told me about a book she loved. It was “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas. Of course I had heard about the book, everyone has by this point. It was an incredibly popular book from a couple of years ago and it seemed like everyone in the world has read it except for me. KerryAnn said as soon as she started it, she couldn’t put it down and she pretty much read it in one sitting. That’s impressive for a 400+ page book.
Honestly, the reason why I have been avoiding this book is because it’s YA. I’ve tried reading YA many times, and it just makes me feel old and out of touch. So as a result, I’ve generally focused my attention toward other book genres. I told KerryAnn this, but she pressed further. “This is not a typical YA book,” she said. I was skeptical.
The next day, I came into the office and found a copy of “The Hate U Give” in hardcover, sitting on my chair. It may as well have been a plate of green eggs and ham. I took it home and decided to at least give it a chance. My general rule of thumb when it comes to books is to read at least 50 pages and then decide whether to ditch it or continue to the end. I’m so glad I stuck by this rule because within the first 50 pages I was hooked! Angie Thomas is an amazing writer with a truly remarkable gift for getting inside a character’s soul.
I think by now everyone is familiar with the plot of this book. It’s about a sixteen year old girl names Starr who lives in a poor neighborhood, but attends an elite private high school with mostly rich, white kids. One night, while she and her best friend, Khalil, are driving home from a party, they get pulled over by a white police officer who shoots and murders Khalil, who is unarmed. This event sparks outrage in the community and forces Starr to start seeing things in a whole new way.
This is a book that should be required reading in schools because it talks about racism in a very modern way that is more real for today’s generation. Thomas uses her writing as a way of illustrating how bigotry and discrimination have become insidious in our society by showing it through the eyes of a sixteen year old girl. Starr sees and experiences the racism that is happening now, which is different from the racism shown in books that are normally read in school, such as “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, which was first published in 1960. It’s not that the message in “To Kill A Mockingbird” is no longer relevant, because it obviously still is. But “The Hate U Give” shows us that the hatred that existed almost 60 years ago is still among us, and that it has manifested itself in new ways. Thomas gives us this book as a way of fighting back against this hatred by educating the reader about systemic racism in America.
Beyond the overall message, Angie Thomas does an amazing job of telling the story, keeping it interesting for the readers, and writing in such as way that the reader truly understands each of the characters on a deep level.
KerryAnn was right when she said that this was no typical YA novel. Whether it was written for young people or not doesn’t matter. It’s still an important story to tell with a powerful message. I’m glad she talked me into reading this and I would encourage others to read it too… even if you’re old and out of touch like me!