Tuesday, September 26, 2017

THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS

Image Credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a fictional account of a very real scenario that happens in the United States quite frequently. With the current state of police and race relations at the forefront and prolific rapper, the late Tupac Shakur as a backdrop, this creative take on a conflict with which people in the United States struggle was powerful and also refreshing. The author certainly took on a larger-than-life topic for her debut novel, and I certainly see why it's all the buzz for 2017. 

The main character, sixteen-year old Starr, witnesses her unarmed friend since childhood get shot and killed by a police officer after a traffic stop. Starr, who lives in a predominately African-American neighborhood but attends a private school with predominately non-African-American students is torn between two worlds. Her character struggles with two personas, the one she is at home versus assimilating while she's at school. It's a coping mechanism that many African Americans practice everyday. 

After the killing, the literary conflict tool of (wo)man versus self is employed with Starr trying to determine whether she should speak up or remain in the shadows and about who she truly is and what she saw. The storyline is somewhat predictable, but I found the true beauty in the first-person perspective from which it was told. I think the author offers readers, who may not completely understand these relevant issues from the African American perspective, another dimension from which to draw. 

We are all flawed people, so like any other, the book has some weaknesses. I do feel as though Ms. Thomas was speaking her truth, but some depictions seemed to toe the stereotypical line, which causes concern for me. My hope is that people read this book for what it is - one person's perspective of this issue. I don't want people to paint a broad brush and assume that all African Americans think, act, or feel this way. The issue is complex. The people are complex. And there's no "right" way to illustrate it, but this is Ms. Thomas' way, and I think she did a fine job. She is one woman who is using her vehicle to voice her perspective. While she may echo similar sentiments of others, this is her story. I think it's important to keep that in mind with any story, but especially hot topics such as this one. 

My other issue with the book is there were some parts that seemed to celebrate reverse racism under the guise of humor, and I didn't really feel comfortable with that. Just like I don't want people to make assumptions or generalizations about my culture, I don't want others (whether they are the majority or a minority) to experience that same judgement. In the book, Starr experiences some things in the African American community that I, as an African American, never have. So, I didn't think it was fair when some of the African American characters made sweeping statements about Caucasians. In one sense, it enhances the book because it is a reflection of life. But on the other hand, I think it could have been handled in a better way. 

The book is very real. The characters are relatable. I find myself thinking about them since I've finished the book. I do think this was a story that needed to be told in this way. The topic is heavy, and this isn't necessarily a book you will want to read to escape reality, but rather to help develop a more complete picture of your current reality. 

Recommendation: This young adult novel is almost 450 pages, but reads rather quickly. It would make for a good rainy-day weekend read. I definitely think readers should check it out. 

Until next time ... Read on!
Location: Fort Worth, TX, USA

4 comments :

  1. Great review! I like your comment about sweeping statements. I saw this recently and it is really hard to close that divide with those kinds of comments/statements!

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  2. Great review. I need to pick this up and continue reading it. I want that more complete picture of the real life things happening to our African Americans that I can't really have as a white woman.

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    Replies
    1. This makes my heart sing. I really do think if we all get closer and learn more about one another, it will be a lot harder to express hatred and anger toward one another. We really are all more alike than different.

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Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog. I am an avid reader who enjoys reading fiction. I also read biographies as well as fiction and non-fiction books about the Holocaust and Civil Rights period ... and I've been known to read a blog or two! If you'd like me to review a book, please complete the contact form below my bio. I'll be in touch!

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