“Girls wear their hair coloured, curled, laid, and slayed. Got me feeling basic as hell with my ponytail. Guys in their freshest kicks and sagging pants grind so close to girls they just about need condoms …”
This is part of the opening chapter of THE HATE U GIVE. The story begins at a party before gunshots shatter the music. Fleeing, 16-year-old Starr is led to safety by her friend Khalil. Shortly after that, the car they are travelling in is pulled over by police. The unarmed Khalil is murdered – shot at point blank range by the man Starr refers to as “Officer One-Fifteen”. She is the only witness to the crime and her 16-year-old shoulders bear the ferocious repercussions.
What makes this novel so compelling is partly its insights, and the way harsh issues are dealt with. There were times the story chilled me to the bone, and at other times, I had to laugh aloud. I got to know a host of characters, each brought to life so well on the page that I felt I was a fly on the wall witnessing events as they unfolded.
The Hate U Give is an outstanding debut, offering untold insights into contemporary life for black Americans. The first-person narrative is a joy to read. Rarely has a book captured my interest so much, refusing to let me go until the very last line. Read it. You won’t regret it for a second.
MORE ABOUT THE NOVEL
One week after it was published, Angie Thomas’s thrilling debut young-adult novel, The Hate U Give, shot to the top of the New York Times best-seller list for young-adult books. The story follows 16-year-old Starr Carter, who lives in a poor, predominantly black neighbourhood and attends a rich, predominantly white school. After she witnesses her childhood best friend fatally shot by a police officer, Starr confronts the reality of racial injustice in America, grapples with how she can continue to straddle two completely different worlds, and is drawn into activism.
Since the book came out, The Hate U Give (named for a Tupac song) has reportedly sold more than 100,000 copies, been widely praised by critics and been optioned for a film, with Amandla Stenberg attached to play Starr.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angie Thomas was born in Jackson, Mississippi. Thomas earned a BFA from Belhaven University, a predominantly white, private Christian college in Mississippi. Thomas was the first black student to graduate in creative writing.While she was a college student, she heard about the shooting of Oscar Grant in the news. This story was one of the influences for her novel The Hate U Give, which she initially wrote as a short story. Before The Hate U Give, Thomas had been writing in the fantasy genre but worried that her stories would not matter. She spoke with one of her college professors, who suggested that her experiences were unique and that her writing could give voices to those in her world who had been silenced and whose stories had not been told.
In an NPR interview, Thomas cited Tupac as inspiration. She said that she felt a wide range of emotions when listening to his albums, and wanted to achieve a similar effect as a writer: “I want to make you think at times; I want to make you laugh at times; I want to make you cry at times – so he was an influence in that way.”Thomas herself has cited experience with rap, her skills as a teen rapper having been the subject of an article in the magazine Right On!.
Thomas has won an inaugural award from the We Need Diverse Books organization. She now supports this organization and shares their mission. In an interview with The Telegraph, Thomas stated that she aims to “show truth and tear down stereotypes” in her writing.