Holy damn. No, but really. Why didn’t I get this book sooner? “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (ISBN 1406372153; 438p; Goodreads) puts a crown on my this year’s reads. It’s definitely the best contemporary book I have ever read. I wish there was more, but what could top this?
Starr already had a pretty complicated life. Attending a school where she and a couple more students were the only black people around, she felt pressure acting more like the people around her did, to avoid the whole “black girl from the hood” stereotype getting attached. At home she hurried to shake that all off, to not seem lame, because, really! Add regular teenage problems to that, and there you have it. But all that falls to dust in one night. Her life, and the life of her whole community fall apart as her childhood friend get brutally murdered with several shots to the back by a police officer. He stopped them for no real reason, got irritated over the smallest things, dragged Khaleel out of the car, and as he bent to ask terrified Starr if she’s okay – he shot him in the back. Over, and over, and over.
“Thug”, “dealer”, “gangbanger” are all epithets Khaleel’s name get changed with. Even the seemingly most sympathetic people are more affected by the officer’s father slobbering over the television of what a hard time his son is having over this “human mistake”, as if Khaleel was less. After all, Khaleel was indeed a dealer, so he would’ve died anyway, one gangbanger less, right? But Starr knows the truth behind the name, she knows the boy behind the titles, and slowly, being pushed by anger and injustices, even if discouraged by threats officers make on her, she speaks up. After all, she has the support of her family, and her wonderfully united community. And so the story of protests turned to riots turned to war zone begin.
I can’t begin telling you how good, and how important this book is. At time I’d forget I’m reading fiction, for it seems it’d be enough to change a title, change a name, and you’d recognize the people. I hope to someone this book will be an eye-opener. I can only give it 5 out of 5, and recommend.