Friday, April 14, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I made a hard sell for our book club to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, but no one was interested. So I was forced to read this book on my own and now I honestly want to talk to people about it, but I don't know anyone else who's read it, so I'm going to just babble on here.

The book tells the story of Starr, a black teenage girl who witnesses a friend get shot by a white police officer and the aftermath of that event. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel should be required reading for everybody who lives in the United States.  It subtly manages to get all the perspectives addressed here - white and black children, white and black adults, white and black officers - while also having a completely clear editorial position. In my race and politics classes, I spend way more time than I'd like to admit attempting to get my students to engage in perspective taking, but I felt like I was definitely even more deeply exposed to perspectives on BLM through this novel because I was in people's heads and shoes during their every day lives. 

But besides being timely and honest and raw, the writing here is clear and precise, as if Thomas spent hours agonizing over every sentence, every comma placement, and every dropped consonant in her dialogue. The writing wasn't overdone and didn't get in the way of the immersive experience of Starr's life that you found yourself in after the first five pages. I wanted to turn the pages because the plot was engaging and I wanted things to work out for Starr, but I also wanted to stay in engage in the crispness of the writing on each page.

The relationships in the novel as also startlingly powerful. Thomas shows you how Starr relates to all these different people including her parents, siblings, friends, boyfriend, and people in the neighborhood where she lives without ever lecturing you.  You see the nuances in relationships without having to be told anything. I want to know Starr's father, I want to go to their barbecues, and I want to tell Starr it will be okay. But I don't know if it will be.

So, go to the bookstore and get this book. It's well worth it.

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