AT A GLANCE:
Genre: Emotional, Social Issues, Racism, Prejudice, Thriller, Drama
Length: 464 pages
Notes: Recommended reading – especially for white folks like me. Strong language and imagery, but necessary for plot. No sex.
I picked up this book knowing very little, other than that everyone was talking about it. (In fact, I didn’t even know it had been made into a movie until my husband told me after I’d finished. I’m really out of the loop, you guys.)
I am so glad I read this. I grew up in a very white, privileged area, and as much as I want to be understanding of other races and the things they experience, it’s difficult for me – not because I don’t want to, but because it’s just not part of everyday conversation with my non-white friends. They’ve told me stories, of course, which give a small glimpse into their world, but I’ve never experienced anything first-hand, even as a bystander.
The Hate U Give brilliantly gives the reader a chance to live life through the eyes of the main character, Starr. Whether it’s Starr’s struggle to fit in, her grief, or her confusion about what is fair and just, I was able to identify with her. I felt her anger, pain, confusion, and everything else. I was hooked from the first scene where Starr feels out of place at the party – because I felt out of place as well. It was a brilliant writing choice. I also loved that Starr had a white boyfriend because of the interesting dynamics that created among the other characters, in addition to paralleling the struggle I was facing being white in this novel’s world. Angie Thomas is very deliberate about her characters, scenes, and interactions, and it makes for compelling reading.
I found myself loving Starr’s family; I could see the similarities between her loving parents and two brothers and my loving parents and two brothers. It was easy to find things that were similar, which made the things that were different – especially those that depended on race – all the more effective. It really pressed against my white privilege, which I’m glad for.
I frequently find myself oblivious regarding racial issues because I have the ability to be so. For my friends of color – well, they don’t have a choice. I’ve made efforts to pay closer attention to my actions and the situations around me, but this book gave me a long look look at my life compared to the life of others, and the passion with which this book was written makes that lesson hard to forget. I hope that I continue to become better at understanding the struggle of people of color and, given the opportunity, will be quick to speak out with them when necessary.
Quick sum up: The best part of this book is that it is extremely effective at bringing an outsider like me (hello, white!) into the world of racism, prejudice, and code switching. The worst part of this book is that the people who really need to learn the lessons contained within are unlikely to crack the cover.
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