After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.
What makes this novel so compelling is the way Starr negotiates the relatively safe world of school, where she assimilates despite the soft racism of one or two so-called friends, and how she navigates the dangers of her own neighbourhood, where it’s not uncommon to be caught in the crossfire of rival gangs ... As the tension mounts, the reader suffers with Starr’s quite ordinary friends and family as they hurtle through extraordinary experiences and circumstances. The first-person narrative is simply beautiful to read, and I felt I was observing the story unfold in 3D as the characters grew flesh and bones inside my mind. The Hate U Give is an outstanding debut novel and says more about the contemporary black experience in America than any book I have read for years, whether fiction or non-fiction. It’s a stark reminder that, instead of seeking enemies at its international airports, America should open its eyes and look within if it’s really serious about keeping all its citizens safe.
It’s hard to see how this won’t be the young adult novel of the year, if not the decade. Angie Thomas, a former rapper and a debut novelist from Jackson, Mississippi, has written a startling, important book about what it is to be black in America that manages to speak to everyone. It is also a rollicking thriller and a deeply enjoyable read ... It’s suitable for mature 14-year-olds and should fly on to curriculums everywhere, for Thomas has written a classic in the making that demands to be discussed.
The Hate U Give is a didactic issues novel for teenagers. It is also a good book. Those two categories intersect only rarely, but The Hate U Give — a debut novel by Angie Thomas — manages the balancing act with aplomb ... It was probably inevitable that someone would write a YA novel about police shootings, but it was not inevitable that it would be a good book. Whenever a societal problem becomes a national obsession, some adult will write a book about it for teenagers; usually the result is a Go Ask Alice–style stew of fearmongering and breathless sensationalism. But The Hate U Give is charming and funny and carefully crafted, and Starr’s witty, observant, pop culture–inflected voice is a delight ... The specificity and whimsy of ideas like the anger scale of breakup songs is what keeps The Hate U Give moving so deftly through its heavy subject matter; it stays warm and focused and grounded in character even when it’s dealing with big, amorphous ideas like systemic racism. The result is a book so thoughtful and so fun to read that you’ll want to Bruno Mars it.