The Hate U Give
Walker Books (13+)
Sixteen-year old Starr lives in two worlds: growing up with her family in Garden Heights, the poor neighbourhood where she was born, and going to school in an affluent suburban area. When her close childhood friend, Khalil, is fatally shot by a white police officer after a party Starr is the only witness. What she saw, and whether she speaks out, could affect her entire community and have an impact on her friends and close-knit family.
What animates this powerful debut novel is Starr’s unique narrative voice and how her character develops throughout the course of the novel as she fights for justice. The use of a first person narrative creates an immediacy that ensures the reader inhabits the world of the novel which deals unflinchingly with the fear and anger which arise from prejudice and racism. Musicality and humour underpins Thomas’s skilful writing throughout the novel, and there is genuine warmth and a sense of community to the family relationships she develops, despite moments of conflict and heightened tension. Dialogue and detail are authentic and integrated seamlessly into the plot. The realism and openness of the conclusion encourages discussion and is very effective in showing the on-going battle being faced by minorities.
Angie Thomas was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She studied Creative Writing at Belhaven University, where she was one of the only black students – a theme visited in The Hate U Give, her debut novel, which is currently being adapted for film. A former teen rapper, she recently won the inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant awarded by the We Need Diverse Books campaign. She lives in Jackson, Mississippi, United States.