Book Review: The Hate U Give, by Angie Harris
Reviewed By Katelyn Derderian
The Hate U Give” is a timely Young Adult novel about a young woman forced through violence to choose her own path. Starr Carter is a sixteen-year-old girl split between two separate lives; her suburban prep school life, and her dangerous gang-influenced home life in Garden Heights. When she’s at school, she’s usually with her basketball friends or her Fresh Prince loving boyfriend. At home in Garden Heights, she’s typically working at her father’s grocery store and spending time with her family. Starr is constantly torn by the expectations of her family and her communities, but can function well enough in both spheres until her life abruptly changes.
Khalil, Starr’s best friend from childhood, is driving the two of them home from a party and discussing the meaning of Tupac Shakur’s music when they are pulled over. Starr sticks to the instructions her father gave her about dealing with the police; do what they tell you, keep your hands visible, no sudden movements, don’t speak unless they ask you a question. Khalil, unarmed, does not follow the police officer’s instructions and is shot and killed. As the only witness, Starr has some important decisions to make about speaking out. The mainstream media is portraying Khalil as a gang member, drug dealer, and a thug. Her hometown knows Khalil as an exemplary grandson, and a thoughtful young man with limited options. Khalil’s death tears down the walls Starr has had separating her different lives, and pulls her into a case that receives national media attention.
There is a thought-provoking dichotomy in Starr’s understanding of loyalty; with one uncle as an honest hard-working police detective and one intimidating uncle as a “King Lord” gang leader, she has a hard time deciding who she should be listening to. In Garden Heights, rioting and calls for action tear the community apart; no one is willing to talk to the police. In her privileged prep school, she is forced to confront racism and hypocrisy in the people she felt closest to. As an educated young woman, Starr can see the limited options available to the young people in her neighborhood. “The Hate U Give” gives a unique perspective into how the negativity that society feeds to those with the fewest resources comes back to haunt us all. Katelyn Derderian