Reviewed by Bev Scott
Although The Hate U Give is a young adult book, the story was riveting for me as a senior adult. Author Angie Thomas tells the story of a white policeman who kills a young unarmed black man with subtlety, humor, and multiple perspectives. Yes, it has some typical or stereotypical scenes. However, the book covers the controversial topic from the perspective of the black community. Further, it enables the reader to “walk in the shoes” of the young black woman protagonist named Star. This perspective could have turned into a rant about white racism. Instead, the author deftly describes how decisions made by white individuals and institutions perpetuate the racist impact in black communities.
There are some great quotes which stand out. Star wrestles with the risks she is asked to take and her loving supportive mother says being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. “It means you go on even though you’re scared.” During a riot which is the community’s emotional response to the justice system, Star becomes an activist and uses her voice saying,
What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?
The author’s approach helps the reader understand the expressed hostility and anger. One of the comments in response to the issues of social media and the justice system is a great example:
People like us become hashtags but they rarely get justice.
Star recognizes how riots do so much damage to her community including her father’s store. Yet, she also acknowledges the serious problems that community members have long tolerated. There are voices in the community that condemn all cops, but she sees that there are good police, too.
The author has woven in multiple perspectives from diverse lives and from a poor black community. That can help people from privileged white communities to open our eyes, increase our understanding and perhaps avoid narrow-minded stereotypes. I recommend The Hate U Give and encourage not only young adult readers but also older white readers. Explore it with an open mind.