Required Reading: The Hate U Give

(disclosure: I received a digital advance review copy of this title, all opinions are my own)

thug-picI’ll start here with the fact that every major review publication has already reviewed this book and given it not only rave reviews but stars upon stars upon stars. And it deserves every single one of them plus more. Maybe funding from the White House for a copy for every 18-year-old in the country for the next 10 years??? It’s a book representative of the country today and a book to be read by future generations as a sign of this era. Required purchase for all school libraries grades 9 and up.

“That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?’

This is just one of many quotes from “The Hate U Give” (Balzer + Bray, February 28, 2017) by Angie Thomas that really resonated with me as I squirmed and grappled with my undeniable midwestern whiteness and ingrained……….well, how can they not be termed prejudices? Because we all have them. We do. Not just about black/white but about everyone who is any way different than we are. Rather than patting myself on the back while reading this and feeling smug and assured that I am an enlightened reader who has always thought and said the exact right thing, I really examined my reaction to current events regarding race and police brutality. And isn’t that exactly what this book is intended to invoke? If that’s the case, then THUG (and yes, now I know the meaning behind ‘thug life” and no, I did not know it before) hit its mark perfectly. I anxiously await news of Thomas’ next book deal. 

Rather than attempt to re-summarize the book when it has been done expertly by many others, I’ll give you the official blurb:

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

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.

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