“The Hate U Give” by Angela Thomas, released in February 2017, is still one of the most talked about books in the U.S. The title gives a nod to the late Tupac Shakur’s “THUG LIFE: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.” The book, categorized as Young Adult, remained at the top of the NYT bestseller list for 50 weeks. It gained so much popularity that it has been brought to the big screen. While the book/movie is marketed for teen audiences, it tackles hugely important topics such as police brutality, racism, familial conflict, and identity development. The fact that Angela Thomas manages to gear all of this towards young adults is remarkable, but, people of all ages could undoubtedly learn a lot from Thomas’ work.
Starr Carter, the main character, finds herself constantly in limbo between her life at home and her life at school. Her home—Garden Heights—is a poor, mostly black neighborhood while her prep school—Williamson—is an ultra wealthy, mostly white high school twenty minutes away. All of this will change after one night, when she sees her childhood best friend, Khalil, fatally shot. Starr’s world—her personalities, language, and wardrobe—were all cleanly separated until this night. In the days and weeks following, Starr is left reeling. She faces pressure from all sides and ultimately has to decide what she wants to stand up for, how she wants to use her voice, and how she wants to honor Khalil.
Angela Thomas started working on this as a short story in college, not knowing that it would eventually be expounded into this novel. The short story was written in the aftermath of the brutal police shooting of Oscar Grant. Unfortunately, this narrative is as relevant now as it was in 2009.
This emotional and heartbreaking story is one everyone needs to read, and now, watch. The first step to fixing such nasty and deep-rooted prejudices—still very present in our society—is to educate ourselves. From there, we can empathize, stand up, and act.