Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published: February 28, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Hardcover Pages: 464

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Thoughts: This book is important. It deals with racially charged issues such as police violence against innocent people, as well as gang violence within poor neighborhoods. I wouldn't be surprised if this book is soon taught in schools around the country.

With all of that being said, it took me much longer than it should have to finish it. It's a bit on the long side for what the book is, and moves at a rather slow pace, despite what you may think from the official synopsis above. I felt like I should like it more than I actually did like it, if that makes any sense.

If I had to pinpoint what about it made it harder than normal for me to get through, I guess it may boil down to the main character, Starr, not having a lot of agency within her own story. Yes, part of the story is about her coming into her own and deciding for herself that she wants to speak up about what happened to her friend. But it does take her a long time to get there, and before that happens, she isn't necessarily the pilot of her own story. What does she want? What are her goals? I'm not entirely sure, and that's what bothered me.

What's interesting, though, is that I could see this somehow being more effective as a film. And I believe it is already being developed. That sounds super strange, I know. I guess what it all boils down to is that it was missing something for me. Certainly it's an important story, and very of the moment, but just because it is all of those things doesn't mean it gripped me and took me into it like other books have.

Rating: 3.5/5

What I'm Reading Next: Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes


  1. I didn't realize how long this one was - that's pretty unusual for a non-fantasy YA, isn't it? As soon as this one becomes available at my library (I've been in line FOREVER), I'm planning to read it. Based on your review, I wonder if part of its acclaim has less to do with the objective excellence of the book and more to do with the absence of other books on this important subject?

    1. Yeah contemporary YA is usually much shorter than fantasy, so it was strange this one was so long. And yes I do think the acclaim may have more to do with the subject matter because you’re right, there aren’t many books about it. It’s certainly an important read, and people should read it, but I personally wasn’t as engaged as I could have been. It felt almost more like nonfiction or something. But maybe you’ll like it more than I did! I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts.