Tuesday, 9 May 2017

A Review of The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give is the first novel by Angie Thomas. Starr Carter is sixteen, and lives almost a double life. She grew up in Garden Heights, a rougher part of town. Her parents made sure her and her brothers go to a private school in a better area. Starr flips between these two worlds, having to act like someone different at school to the person she is at home. However, she is the sole witness when her friend Khalil, who was unarmed, is shot and killed by a police officer. Her voice now has the chance to make a difference and change things for the better, or destroy everything she ever cared about.

This book is so important.

Thomas handles her subject matter with a deft touch and surprising humour, while never once losing sight of the seriousness of the situation. Part of that is because of the voice of Starr, who makes a lot of sense as the protagonist. There was a lot of what she went through that I could not relate to. However, the book starts with her feeling out of place at a party, she's a Harry Potter fan, and a fish out of water at her own school. I found I could relate to her in these aspects. I'd like to take this moment to discuss the difference between identifying/relating with a character and empathy. You are not going to be able to relate 100% to every character you read about. In fact, if you do, I would say you're not reading enough outside your comfort zone. But you should be able to at least empathise with them. If you don't, either the author has missed the mark, or you need to ask yourself why not.

I'm a white middle-class girl from the UK. My life is as far removed from Starr's for her life to be another world to me, as strange and different as Westeros. I had a hard time comprehending her speech, and even some of her situations. I have never had to hide in a room of my house because of people shooting outside. I felt out-of-place a lot of the time reading this book, like I was walking around Garden Heights with Starr, flinching at every little noise. And that is 100% a good thing. Because the one thing fiction does well is teach us about the experiences of others. This is one of the reasons I think people who read non-fiction only have missed the point. Quite apart from learning facts from fiction, you also learn about people who aren't you, going through experiences you might never have. Now, you obviously can't learn everything through reading a book, and I would never claim that I knew more about this sort of situation than a Black person from America just because I read this book. But I am more informed now of how gang culture operates, and why exactly people end up joining them. It's not as simple as "well, just don't join." I knew that, but I didn't fully understand it.

I recommend this book for everyone, all human beings. I believe that should be required reading for all students in high/secondary schools. It deals with events happening in the present day, which is just as important, if not more, as accounts of things which happened in the past.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard so much about this and am so looking forward to reading it sometime, especially the issues it covers. Nice review!