The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Blurb On The Back:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs.  The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer.  Now what Starr says could destroy her community.  It could also get her killed.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

16-year-old Starr Carter lives in Garden Heights (a deprived area riddled with gang violence) with her parents, younger brother and older half-brother but she goes to a posh private school where she has a rich white boyfriend and other rich friends.  Starr works to keep the two sides of her life separate but that all changes when she accepts a lift home from a party from Khalil (an old childhood friend from Garden Heights) who’s then killed by a white police officer during what should have been a routine stop for a broken tail light.

Starr’s the only witness and she knows that there’s no justice for black people but nothing can prepare her for the impact it has on both her worlds or the way it makes them crash into each other …

Angie Thomas’s much anticipated YA contemporary novel inspired by the Black Lives Matters movement more than lives up to the hype with a note perfect story filled with wit, intelligence, warmth and sharp political and social comment that’s a must read for teens and adults alike.  Everything about the book works – Starr’s voice is pitch perfect and I completely believed in her reactions to the murder and the aftermath (notably the grief, anger and frustration).  Garden Heights and Williamson high school are equally well depicted and I very much enjoyed the contrasts in her behaviour between her various friends and family members (especially Kenya who calls her on it).  Thomas makes some sharp points about white privilege both through Starr’s boyfriend, Chris and her supposed best friend Hailey (who is blind to the effects of her behaviour) and also about the attitude of the police towards young black men (with Starr’s Uncle Carlos, a detective, showing the conflict for black officers).  This is not to say that Thomas is uncritical of crime committed by black people as she makes some caustic observations about gangs while also showing why some feel forced to join them.  The dialogue crackles with authenticity and there isn’t a bum note in Starr’s narrative voice.  If I’ve got one criticism it’s that the end of the story had a bit of a Hollywood feel to it that didn’t quite sit right but that’s a very small concern in what is otherwise an excellent, relevant read and I will be first in line to read Thomas’s next book.

THE HATE U GIVE will be released in the United Kingdom on 6th April 2017.  Thanks to Walker Books for the ARC of this book.

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