Charlotte's Reviews > The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
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it was amazing

If you had asked me when I was eleven years old what my favorite kind of book was, I would have told you historical fiction. This was never actually true—but I realize that I once thought it was because historical fiction was the only genre where I could find black protagonists. Roll of Thunder. Bud, Not Buddy. Books about slavery and civil rights. I was starved for characters who looked like me, feelings I could relate to. This was what I loved about these stories. Their subject matter, while important, was secondary.

Now, fourteen years later, I find myself having just finished The Hate U Give, whose protagonist looks and sounds and feels more like me than most other protagonist I've read. I grew up as one of the only black girls in a predominately white school. I had a colorful collection of kicks that were just about my only form of resistance. I knew, all too well, the acute loneliness that comes from being surrounded by well-meaning white friends who just don't get it. Our story's not exactly the same--Starr Carter lives in a black neighborhood, so she's at least aware of her split identity, while I never saw any black folks outside my family growing up, so I was pretty much trapped in the Sunken Place until college. But, still. This book even brings up those little-black-girl hair ties with plastic balls on the end. It cuts DEEP.

THUG is being promoted by many reviewers as a #blacklivesmatter book, and it's true that it tackles the subject of police brutality with expert nuance. "But what about black cops?" "But what if the victim was a criminal?" "But what about black on black crime?" (UGH.) All of these kinds of questions are addressed. It also consistently pays homage to Fred Hampton, Huey P. Newton, and the Black Panthers as a whole, giving context to today's activism and introducing young readers to the history they won't be taught in school. But what's important to remember, for both this story and this movement, is that it isn't "just" about police brutality, which is one symptom of a larger disease. No--it's about reminding our inherently white supremacist society that black life and culture is precious, complex, beautiful, and worthy of celebration and respect. We are not stereotypes or caricatures or comic-relief sidekicks. We are people, and our lives matter.

So, yes, The Hate U Give is an excellent examination of the hot-button issue of police brutality and a high-definition snapshot of this particular moment in history. But its characters and world are also authentically and unapologetically black, and I saw myself in every page. And that's what will keep me coming back.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 22, 2017 – Shelved
January 22, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read

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