The Hate U Giveby Published 28 Feb 2017
|The Hate U Give.pdf|
|Publisher||Balzer + Bray|
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.
The Hate U Give Reviews
This is a book I've been avoiding reviewing.
I finished The Hate U Give a while back, rated it two stars, but never dared write any of my thoughts about it - why? Because every single review I've seen of this book is 4 stars or above and showers it in seemingly endless praise. When it seems like you're the only person in the world who didn't like a book, reviewing it can be a little intimidating.
Also, this book focused on an incredibly sensitive topic nowadays - racism. Now, before I start making my points and telling you why I didn't like a book that is supposedly anti-racism, when I, myself, am anti-racist, let's go over the definition of "racism." According to the dictionary, racism is the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
If someone works at a coffeeshop and a customer comes in of a different race and they treat them badly, because of their race, that's racist. If someone says "you're stupid because you're ___ (insert race here)," that's racist. If someone thinks they're better than you simply because of the color of that person's skin, that's racism, folks.
Now, if a person were to stop talking with someone because they felt uncomfortable with that person's skin color, wouldn't that be racism? Wouldn't treating someone with hostility just because of their race, something they can't help, and are born with, be racist? Then what, I ask you, is this:
“You can’t even tell me what’s going on!”
“You’re white, okay?” I yell. “You’re white!”
“I’m white?” he says, like he’s just hearing that for the first time. “What the f***’s that got to do with anything?”
The person who said "you're white," who has no other reason besides this prejudice to be angry and stop talking to a white person, is Starr Carter, the narrator of this supposedly anti-racist book.
After Starr's black friend, Khalil, is unjustly shot by a white police officer, Starr immediately zeroes in on the fact that the police officer was white. Suddenly every white person looks evil to her and she worries that she, a black girl, could be killed next.
“I kneel beside my dead friend in the middle of the street with my hands raised. A cop as white as Chris points a gun at me.
As white as Chris.”
Now, I love that this book focused on an unjust police shooting, but I think the author took a wrong turn when she decided to focus on "blacks" and "whites." My question is: why was the police officer's skin color the main focus of this book? Shouldn't the fact that he's a police officer who unjustly shot somebody be the reason for Starr getting so angry about her friend's death? Black people are unjustly shot by police officers, yes, but so are white people. To quote a good article about the statistics of police shootings that you can read here:
“…When a black man is killed by a cop, do we grieve more because there are 46 million of us as opposed to 198 million whites? I doubt it: most Americans never hear about the white men’s deaths at all.
Rather, we operate according to a meme under which cops casually kill black men under circumstances in which white men are apparently let off with a hand slap—and occasional cases of just that are what often get around social media, suggesting that they are the norm.”
It is not normal for a black person to be killed by a police officer, and when the officer won't own up to his mistake (like the one in this book), I am fully supportive of whatever non-violent protesting people want to do. What I won't support is the slogan that gets slapped on alongside these riots: All police officers hate black people or All white people are racist and should own up to their "white guilt." These statements are ludicrous and this book sent out both of those messages loud and clear.
*takes deep breath and prepares for the onslaught of comments coming my way*
Now that I'm done talking about the message, I can tell you what I thought about the book itself: It was boring. Seriously. I expected a fast-paced contemporary, but the plot was slow and the characters weren't developed enough for me to connect with them. With such weak writing, The Hate U Give could have been about rainbows and unicorns and I still would have given it two stars.
THE TRAILER FOR THE MOVIE GAVE ME ACTUAL GOOSEBUMPS I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH IT MULTIPLE TIMES
When you're reading books like The Hate U Give, you're reading someone's decision against silence. This book has made me feel every single possible emotion at the same time. It was truly incredible and I have SO MUCH to say about it I wish I could actually just send everyone a howler containing the entire script of this book instead.
“What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?”
In all honesty, The Hate U Give has made me realize just how simply clueless I was as to the continuing day-to-day actuality of systemic racism in America. A reality in which on any given day, some innocent person like Tommy Le can get shot hours before his high-school graduation because he was carrying a pen, or another innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she is going to end up dead in jail, or a five years old child can get shot and wounded after the police kills his mother. A reality in which justice is dead and the police kills black youth with impunity.
And so many other real stories I read about that truly made the atoms making up my body have enough of being anchored to this awful reality in this human form and wish to move on, become a light wave or something.
See, I don’t know what it's like to be black in America, but I have 18 years of experience in being a brown Muslim woman and I can tell you this: being in the minority is like being stuck behind a glass wall and whenever an injustice occurs, you breathe onto it and you write it in HUGE letters in the condensation...but nobody seems to really see it. Nobody seems to really see you. You’re completely and utterly alone.
The Hate U Give is about institutional racism and a broken criminal justice system where the police can violate the civil rights of thousands of people publicly and openly with almost no consequence at all. It's about what happens when racialized and marginalized communities stand up for their rights in any visible way whatsoever. It’s about how piles and piles of evidence showing sustained corruption and racism and literally hundreds of civilian deaths per year at the hands of the police is still somehow not enough to delegitimize a deeply flawed system.
It's about how instead of standing in unwavering solidarity with the non-violent protests by Black Lives Matter in the face of actually violent, overtly discriminatory and often fatal actions by the police and demanding societal redress and justice, there will always be people who will decry and get enraged by it, people who will try to justify those injustices by any means to curb their own cognitive dissonance.
“A hairbrush is not a gun.”
I mean, this is the 21st century. We evolved. America had elected its first black president. Humanity must've left ‘racism’ back up in the trees from the jungles we descended from.... right?
Maybe there just aren't many “social experiments” on YouTube where privileged folks get to dress up like oppressed groups and have cameras following them around in order to find out that racism is real, since apparently you really need the personal account of a white non-Muslim girl who tries on a hijab for a week to find out that racism and islamophobia do indeed exist, or a straight person pretending to be gay to find out that homophobia does exist, or an able-bodied person pretending to be disabled to find out that ableism does exist.
You don't need any “social experiments” to understand oppression. You don’t need to plagiarize lived experiences when you can just listen. Not to the personal accounts filtered through a white person but listen to the testimonials of all the people of color across the globe who experience these issues first hand - no matter what their socio-economic standing is, and who are ignored when they actually reach out to educate you even though they shouldn't even have to.
No one should have to debate about whether or not they should have basic human rights.
No one should be expected to be the mouth piece for an entire group.
No one should have to defend their humanity at every single step, repeatedly and constantly.
But racism does exist.
And I don't usually comment on other people's reviews, but if you’ve read this book and chose to ignore the important message it conveys to get offended over the main character’s remark about the way white people call 'target' tar-jay and “hey hey that’s racist!” because you think a harmless joke could possibly equate thousands of black lives unjustly killed every year at the hands of the police, or say “but what if it was the other way around?" when you have zero concept of power dynamics and historical context, you are missing the point.
Now you can justify your outrage by bringing up the definition of racism like I’ve seen so many people do, but I don’t think dictionary definitions will help you there when they are the most basic forms of words and often can’t even be taken in a sociological sense.
Just like how they won’t help with the usual cries of ‘reverse racism’ or even the moronic nonsense like trying to claim that anti-Islamic bigotry is not racist because “Islam is not a race”.
It won’t change the fact that members of marginalized groups suffer under the yoke of all forms of social inequality, from racism to misogyny to ableism to so much more on a daily basis.
It won't change the fact that these words are a constant, inevitable factors of the lives of the minority, all found on different levels of existence, all carrying various levels of trauma.
I think Scott Woods said it best when he said that racism is bigger than just “conscious hate”. That it might look like hate but it is just one manifestation. And privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another.
“You can destroy wood and brick, but you can't destroy a movement.”
Khalil's story is one I will never forget, just like I won't forget all the real stories this book has opened my eyes to.
GET READY, WORLD!
The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen—people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right.
Maybe this can be it.
There are those books that are important and timely, worthy of reading because of the social and/or political message that they send. They fill a gap in the market; they make waves. They need to exist. And there are other books that are well-written, emotionally-charged and unputdownable - books that are not important as such, just really fucking good. But, on occasion, you find one of those rare wonderful creatures that is both important AND really fucking good.
The Hate U Give is one of those books.
I could tell you that this book is inspired by the "Black Lives Matter" movement. I could tell you that it rips unapolegetically into a subject that needed to be ripped into - the shootings of unarmed black people by police officers, as well as racial bias in the justice system. I could tell you that it opened my eyes to aspects of white privilege I never considered. All of that needs to be said, for sure, but I feel like I'm doing this book a disservice by highlighting its sociopolitical importance over the fact that it's also a fantastic, powerful and utterly unforgettable book.
I don't know what your experiences were as a child, but when I was young, I remember my parents giving me a talk about how if I was ever lost or in trouble, I should look for a police officer. They would protect me, look after me, and make sure I got back to my parents unharmed. They are the people in society we should be able to trust. But the black protagonist of this book - Starr - gets a very different talk. About how to behave around police officers so she doesn’t get arrested. Or shot.
Unfortunately, her friend - Khalil - never got that talk.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve Tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.
The Hate U Give is about how Starr deals with the aftermath of witnessing Khalil being shot by a cop for... doing absolutely nothing wrong. Her fear is palpable as she confronts a system that she knows is working against her. She's afraid to speak out, yet angry that Khalil's murderer could escape justice. We see, through Starr's eyes, how the media presents young black men as guilty until proven innocent - and when you're poor, black, and from a rough neighborhood, it's virtually impossible to appear innocent.
Though, at its heart, this book first and foremost captures the perspective of a scared young girl. A girl with a loving family, complicated friendships with white teenagers at her school, and a white boyfriend. The relationship dynamics run alongside the fight for justice and are no less compelling. Thomas deftly portrays complex, nuanced relationships between all the people in the book, considering the divides between Starr and her white classmates, but never allowing anyone to become cliche or one-dimensional.
Little humorous gems lay scattered throughout the dialogue:
Momma reaches her fork onto my plate and breaks off a piece of pancake. “What is Tumblr anyway? Is it like Facebook?”
“No, and you’re forbidden to get one. No parents allowed. You guys already took over Facebook.”
“You haven’t responded to my friend request yet.”
“I need Candy Crush lives.”
“That’s why I’ll never respond.”
It's incredible how The Hate U Give manages to both break your heart and warm it in the space of just a few pages.
What else can I even say? If you want to have your heart ripped out - read this book. If you want to read a great book about a girl dealing with family and relationships - read this book. If you want to cry, laugh, and then cry some more - read this book. If you're ready to change this stupid fucking world - read this book.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
This has got to be one of the most hyped books in the existence of YA evers. And you know what? It is 5000% WORTHY of that hype and more and basically get thee to this book and read it as soon as possible. It perfectly combines a really important story about #BlackLivesMatter and speaking up for it with absolutely excellent writing and storytelling. Like, dude, this book is important and one of the best contemporaries.
So I have to admit: the character are what makes it that just something incredibly special for me. Starr was SO winning and rootable (shh that's a word) and I loved how she was so complex and had such personality and was so honestly relatable. And then the book focuses SO much on family!! Be still my beating heart. <3 I looooove books about family and Starr has the kind of parents YA is in desperate need of: in love, supportive, respectful of each other, and bringing their kids up the best they can be. LIKE HOLD ME I'M FLAILING.
(Also it was really refreshing to have teens that respect their parents...because I can't tell you how sick I am of how many books I encounter were the kids are just selfish disrespectful jellyfish. That wasn't how I was brought up so it's like nice to see kids who can talk to their parents about anything, LOVE THEM FIERCELY, and also do not dare muck up too bad or they'll get in huge trouble. I love it.) Basically Starr calls her parents her OTP and....dude yes.
I also absolutely adored all the secondary characters. Like they were ALL so real and complex?!?? It wasn't like "oh here I am reading a piece of paper". More like "oh here I am being with these humans who are like totally alive to me". SO THAT'S INCREDIBLE. A+ for writing at every corner basically. And I absolutely adored Starr's older brother Seven, and Sekani the younger bro was adorable too although entirely annoying...as younger siblings are. And then Starr had an epic Asian friend (and also a racist friend whom we all want to kind of smack into the middle of next week...that gets dealt with tho). And even DeVante was just adorable and I love how his story line went.
Oh oh see this is the thing?!?? EVERY character had their own storyline. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And that's why this book is so good and the story so real.
OTHER LIST OF THINGS I LOVED:
• Starr has friends who are women, like god bless, this shouldn't be irregular but it is in a lot of books
• there is SO MUCH FOOOOOOOOOD
• Starr has a super sweet relationship with her uncle as well
• It's funny!! It's such a serious story line but there are still quips and TONS of time where I was grinning like a dork
• It's #ownvoices
• It's unfair but it also shines light into the world, so I feel sad but GOOD finishing it and I think it just sent an excellent message in a really hopeful way
I do have to admit two things were not my favourite. And that would be (1) it's very long...I have yet to meet a contemporary that is nearly 500 pages that I think should be that long. Erm, SORRY. Concise = my friend. And (2) I didn't feel very much chemistry AT ALL between Starr and her white boyfriend, Chris. They both seemed to be a bit of a problem to each other. But ya know, it's a sweet romance and I didn't not ship it, I just think it was definitely the weakest part of the book. [spoilers removed]
Also I really learnt a lot about the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It was really good to just be reading this and knowing it's #ownvoices and just taking it all in. The horror that is the justice system is so sickening. And I was so scared for everyone's lives and just knowing HOW REAL THIS IS made an impact. No one should have a friend die in front of them, and Starr has it happen twice. It's heartbreaking. This is such an important book. It tackles racism and police violence and the corrupt justice system head on.
ALL IN ALL: go read it, obviously. I mean, what else is there to say?!?? The writing is beautiful and incredible, there are so many perfect sentences that I was underlining in my kindle, and I loved Starr and her incredibly family so much. <3 It's a SAD book but also a HOPEFUL one.
(And mate, I'm a fantasy reader addict, so look at me go, loving a contemporary so much.)
*** QUOTES ***
Note: these are taken from an ARC so don't use them anywhere! They might not be the final edits!
"Brave doesn't mean you're not scared, Starr," she says. "It means you go on even though you're scared. And you're doing that."
"So she unfollowed your Tumblr thingy," Momma says, proving why she can never have one.
I feel like shit right now. I can't believe I let Hailey say that. Or has she always joked like that? Did I always laugh because I thought I had to?
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?
Funny. Slave masters thought they were making a difference in black people's lives too. Saving them from their "wild African ways". Same shit, different century. I wish people like them would stop thinking that people like me need saving.
"Daddy, you're the worst person to watch Harry Potter with. The whole time you're talking about" -- I deepen my voice '''Why don't they shoot the nigga Voldemort?'"
"Ay, it don't make sense that in all them movies and books, nobody thought to shoot him."
"Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right."