Review: Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give

This novel is a very relevant and important piece of contemporary fiction. Angie Thomas’ story was inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and her characters are a powerful portrayal of racism in the modern Western world.

The novel follows the main character Starr as she confronts police violence, discrimination, and racist rhetoric. At 16 her childhood friend Khalil is murdered by a police officer. Although he was unarmed, he was classified a threat. The news identifies him as a gang member and a drug dealer, but the community repeats he was wrongfully murdered and protest his unlawful treatment.

This is where the novel becomes interesting. Thomas beautifully and powerfully captures the haunting confusion Starr falls into as a person of colour living in a lower-income neighbourhood inhabited by gang members, while also attending a predominantly white school called Williamson Prep.

Her voice becomes centric to the story—no one except for her really knows what happened to Khalil in his final moments. But because she is a part of both the communities that could suffer from this truth, she falls into the whirlwind of race and class division.

This novel is exciting to read–you’ll find yourself clapping at certain points and cheering Starr on as she finds her place in her conflicting worlds. This story is beautiful because it puts the reader directly into Starr’s shoes. She and her family become victims of policy and gang bullying to either silence her or make her speak up for the sake of political uproar.

By taking readers on this journey it almost instills a level of empathy and understanding that is rightfully needed at this point in history. Though racial police brutality is not a new thing, this book mimics several important voices of the BLM movement.

This novel is a form of literary genius and peaceful protesting. It is not a fictional story about romance and utopia, but a web of metaphors resembling real world violence. The novel seems inspired by headlines and experiences that have been occurring for much longer than just the past few years, and Thomas stays true to maintain that narrative.

At one point Starr muses: she has experienced violence her entire life, a level of tragedy her peers at Williamson know nothing about. It is interesting to read her discuss her identity: at Williamson she is a complete opposite version of herself within her community. She states that she acts in a way that will relieve her of the label “ghetto” or any other racist stereotypes her classmates may carry about her.

The novel speaks of community and class struggle, including racial propaganda and violence. If not for the brilliant writing, then for the relevant content the novel is a must read.

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