Sixteen year-old Starr Carter wears a mask daily: one in her poor, black neighborhood and one in the rich and predominately white neighborhood where she attends an elite school. But, for unbeknownst to those around her, masks tire and tighten with each passing day. The balance between managing the tightness and fatigue comes to a head after witnessing the shooting death of her friend, Khalil, by the hands of a police officer during a traffic stop.
Once his death makes headline news, she battles assumptions from those ignorant of who Khalil was as a person. Everybody has an opinion – some good, some bad, others clueless. As those opinions come to a head, Starr wonders just how long she’s willing to walk the tightrope others desire her to teeter.
My soul’s on fire.
I avoided this story because of the pain involved. The pain of my community, no matter where the actual location, resonated to my front door. As a mother of two sons, as a wife, as a sister/daughter, and as a black woman, this topic isn’t contained to the binding of a book. It’s real life and I didn’t want another reminder of real life. I wanted relief.
However, a bit of said relief gave me hope as I read. Angie Thomas provided me cultural winks another author wouldn’t have given. Things appearing shallow rang deep. Normalcy of names. 90s R&B (Starr’s parents are the same age as me). Slang. Images others miss but members of my group know.
Starr’s voice rang authentic because I lived as Starr. I attended parochial schools to avoid public school and I battled my true self versus what was expected of me versus the shell of an portrait to “get by”. I dated numerous guys like Chris. I knew, still know, more than my share of Haileys. I befriended Kenyas, DeVantes, Sevens, and Mayas. Although I’m forty, voices and memories connected. This book connected.
Believe the hype.
Believe the voice.
Believe the words.
The Hate U Give struck its importance from day one, and earned its place as the paramount YA fiction experience of the year.
Cop this story.
Live. Learn. Love.
*This book happily sits on my bookshelf.* 5 out of 5 (I read this book in March 2017)