Starr, the young black protagonist of The Hate U Give is just a normal teenager. But, one event changes her life completely. A white police officer shoots her unarmed best friend. Following his death, Starr struggles to come to grips with the situation.
She is torn between two realities- the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered with this fatal shooting. Starr has been aware of these kind of radicalized killings. But, they always happened to someone else. Now, it has happened to her best friend.
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 incident sets off a series of protests. Against the background of the events, one gets a sense of the neighbourhood that Starr and her family live in- where young boys get into gangs and deal in drugs- not because they want to but because circumstances push them to. The vicious cycle of poverty and anti-social behaviour, where one feeds the other seems to be a way of life here. Is it the time for her to now speak up and change things for the better?
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?
She is drawn towards activism and wants to make her voice heard. But that’s no easy path either.
Intentions always look better on paper than in reality. The reality is, I may not make it to the courthouse in the morning.
The debut young adult novel is a timely look at some realities of our world right now- of which teenagers are very much a part of.
The beautiful relationship that Starr shares with each of her family members is also a running thread in the story. How they help her deal with the scenario in their own ways, is also a touching portrayal of family, and the role that family members play in our lives, no matter how flawed they may be.
This is a poignant story that deals with a conflict faced by a young teenager, in a social setting that young adults all over the world can identify with. Even if the incidents described in The Hate U Give happened in the USA, thematically and emotionally it is a novel that will connect with all people across cultures and social scenarios. In my opinion, it is a book that adults would love to read as well!
The book has been sweeping up awards, garnering critical acclaim and winning readers around the world! It won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2018. The novel recently also won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, was declared a Printz Honor Book (of the Michael L. Printz Award, for excellence in literature written for young adults) as well as being selected as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book (the awards recognizing the African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults) at the American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards in the USA. The Hate U Give has also been shortlisted for the esteemed CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 in the UK. The Hate U Give is one book that lives up to the hype!