The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
When I started reading this book, I began to lament how depressing it was.
In the first 25 pages, the novel's focus is revealed -- a young, unarmed black man is gunned down by a white cop during a questionable traffic stop. Given today's real-life versions of that very narrative, I feared it would continue along that heartbreaking path.
But its overall tale was offset with accounts of ordinary Black life. The narrator and protaganist here is a teen-age Black girl, whose concerns include her schooling, her high school friends, boys, her family, her parents and her social life. She frets about how she and those around her have changed since middle school. She reacts with dismay, but is secretly proud, when her parents openly show affection.
She acknowledges living in two worlds and practicing code-switching -- living a proud Black life with her family and friends in the 'hood, but playing down her Blackness when she is with her white friends at school. The two lives really interact. Her parents are unaware she has a white boyfriend at school.
Similar to the protagonist in On The Come Up, Thomas's second novel, Starr Carter is a bright, observant, talented black girl trying to make her way through life. But unlike Bri, who rails against the inequities through her rap music, Starr plays along to make her way through both of her worlds.
Still, Starr suffers through the discrimination, the poverty, the bullying of police, and the humiliation of being treated as less of a person at school and on the streets. She deals with the trapped violence in her neighborhood, and grapples against speaking out and risking more trouble, or staying quiet and accepting the
She struggles to find the common ground, working to stand up and speak out when she must, yet protecting herself and her family when she can.
Thomas portrays her vividly, letting us in on her secrets and her fears. Thomas is a wonderful writer, bringing us into a world we don't know, taking us around, introducing us to the people and places. She shows us and lets us see a fuller picture of her world, and I for one am grateful.