Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
It’s hard to find the right words to explain how much I loved The Hate U Give and how important and powerful it is. Not only do I love this book because it’s a fantastic piece of literature, but also because it’s one that you believe everyone should read because of its messages about racism and Black Lives Matter. And because of that, writing the review for this novel has got to be one of the hardest ones I’ve ever written. This book make me laugh, catapulted me into Starr’s world, and left me sobbing from sadness and frustration by the end. I could list a million reasons why you should read The Hate U Give, but here’s my top five.
1. We Need More YA Novels Featuring WOC
Diversity is a big conversation topic in the bookish community at the moment, and the release of The Hate U Give couldn’t have been more timely. It’s undeniable that YA fiction needs more diversity and I do believe we’re slowly improving, but I also believe that there’s no such thing as ‘enough’ diversity. The world is beautiful and vibrant, and I strongly believe that the characters we read about should reflect that. I haven’t read nearly enough books with protagonists of colour, so The Hate U Give was the book I needed in my life right now. Not only are reading these books important for everyone in the community in order to become more empathetic, open-minded people, but it shows marginalised readers that they’re not alone and that their stories and their voices matter.
2. It Raises Awareness for #BlackLivesMatter
This is the first novel around #BlackLivesMatter and I can guarantee that it won’t be my last. I’ve known a bit about the movement and its importance, but I’ve never understood how much it affected actual people. It’s easy to distance yourself from the horrors of the world, but when you’re so immersed in the Starr’s world and you see the atrocities that are taking place, you can’t look away. The Hate U Give demands you attention and prompts you to act, standing up for what it right and refusing to back down. It made me sick to realise that innocent people are still getting killed for literally no reason at all, and racism isn’t something we’ve ‘solved’. We’ve come a long way, sure, but there’s still a long road ahead. It disgusted and angered me to see how this blatant murder was handled. This book is just so powerful and eye-opening.
3. It’s Timely and Important
The release of The Hate U Give honestly couldn’t have been more timely, and while I appreciate it being in the world at this time, it’s also disheartening to see that the world has become what it is. But that doesn’t mean we get to turn a blind eye to what’s going on outside our own homes. The state the world is in at the moment means that this novel is more important than ever. We can’t just be silent when people’s lives are at risk and when there are people in the community who can’t feel entirely safe in their own neighbourhood because they fear being attacked by the people that are meant to ‘protect’ them. The Hate U Give is such an important read, and I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know. This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time to come.
4. It Gives You All the Feels
I can’t believe how quickly this book brought me to tears. The things that happened were just so horrific, and it was really confronting to read about these murders that were written about so candidly. This isn’t fiction — this is happening now, and that’s what made this book such a hard one to read. I loved this book because of that reason, but it’s also the reason why I couldn’t read this book in one sitting. It was just so devastating and so emotional that I needed to put it down at times. The Hate U Give isn’t an easy read, but that makes it all the more important. But it isn’t just a heartbreaking book. It’s also funny in parts and the pop-culture references are brilliant. This whole book is brilliant, period.
5. The Romance is Adorable and Realistic
While it might not seem important in comparison to the themes of racism and Black Lives Matter, the romance is an essential part to the narrative. As well as offering cute moments between Starr and Chris, it also highlighted the need for more interracial relationships being represented in YA fiction. While there were times where I didn’t like Chris and times where I didn’t know where I stood with him, I was so impressed with his character arc and loved the person he became. It broke my heart to see Starr feel the need to hide a part of herself around her friends at school, but her realisation that she had to be true to herself and be herself completely was so moving. The Hate U Give is a book of contrasts in many ways, but it also shows us that we’re more similar than we are different. As Angie Thomas says: ‘Empathy over sympathy’.
There’s only one more thing I want to say: READ IT.
Have you read The Hate U Give yet? Do you read many YA novels featuring people of colour? What are some of your favourite books written by people of colour? Do you think more YA novels should revolve around the Black Lives Matter movement? Let’s talk all about this stunning debut!
Thanks to Walker Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!