Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Dear Starr, you are a brilliant, beautiful and incredible character the world is lucky to have cataloged through these pages. Your complexity as a young woman -- navigating socio-economic, racial, geographic, and gendered identity lines, spaces, and institutionalized, systematic, discriminatory power and privilege dynamics -- is everything the world needs to read. As Booklist noted in their review, The Hate U Give is "an inarguably important book that demands the widest possible readership."

Dear Angie Thomas, your genius and your craft is just other-worldly. As a debut novel - it's more than clear why 13 publishers fought for you! Undoubtedly you have millions of lifelong fans from this novel, myself included. I am at a loss to describe just how deep Starr's complex characterization runs and holds onto you as a reader. And her friends and family so vividly come to life with each line of dialogue and narration. As a reader, it's so cliche to say "I feel like I'm right there!" but REALLY, you are with Starr. You're with her in Garden Heights as she tries to prove herself 'cool' to Kenya's judging eyes. You're with Starr in her swanky school as she switches from Garden Heights to Williamson, traveling between her worlds in multiple aspects. You're with her as she is hurt by Hailey's ignorance and denial of her systematic privilege and racism, and with Starr as she struggles to figure out where her place is in the fight for justice for herself, her friends, and her community. #StarrforPresident

And my last set of notes I need to write - Dear Reader who has yet to read this book... honestly - just stop reading this and go get yourself a copy! OK, or maybe I suppose keep reading and then go get a copy. That works too. This novel - from the police shooting to all of the micro-aggressions, the divisions by class, race, and socio-economics - gang warfare, addiction, privilege and inequity, systematic oppression and discrimination - there is just so much in this novel, where to even begin.

Every page of this book holds brilliance- I just want to highlight a few of my favorite things!

Finding Lines of Identity and Belonging: 
"I get lost again as classmates and teachers that I don't know are discussed. I don't say anything. Doesn't matter though. I'm invisible." (10)

"Or I could call Hailey and Maya, those girls Kenya claims don't count as my friends. I guess I can see why she says that. I never invite them over. Why would I? They live in mini-mansions. My house is just mini." (35); "Hailey didn't come. Her dad didn't want her spending the night in 'the ghetto.'" (36)

"I get out the car... That means flipping the switch in my brain so I'm Williamson Starr... Williamson Starr doesn't use slang - if a rapper says it, she doesn't say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her 'hood.' Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she's the 'angry black girl.'... Basically, Williamson Starr doesn't give anyone a reason to call her ghetto. I can't stand myself for doing it, but I do it anyway." (71)

"And bam. That normal feeling? Gone. I suddenly remember how different I am from most of the kids here." (76)

"I try to forget that he has an entire floor as big as my house and hired help that looks like me." (81)

"Part of me feels like I can't exist around people like him." (301)

LOVE (this is YA, after all):
"Yeah, 'cause you're so grown."
"Five months, two weeks, and three days older than you." He winks. "I ain't forgot." (15)

Real Talk:
"Funny how it works with white kids though. It's dope to be black until it's hard to be black." (11)

"Listen! The Hate U- the letter U- Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody. T-H-U-G L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?"
"Damn. Yeah."
"See? Told you he [Tupac] was relevant." (17)

"When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees... The other talk was about what to do if a copy stopped me. Momma fussed and told Daddy I was too young for that. He argued that I wasn't too young to get arrested or shot." (20)

"Right. Lack of opportunities," Daddy says. "...That's why when your momma talked about sending you and your brothers to Williamson, I agreed. Our schools don't get the resources to equip you like Williamson does. It's easier to find some crack than it is to find a good school around here." (169)

Starr's Family- Let me expand briefly here. I think they may be my one of my all-time favorite YA families. Each character gets such depth and the family feels so real, they're intricately involved, not just a 2D afterthought to complete a family tree. They're an at-times messy, but genuine love-hard kind of family. Starr's family I think every reader can connect to, and learn plenty about love, parenting, and relationships from! (Again, Thomas' characterization, just incredible!)

Between Uncle Carlos & Starr's Mom & Dad on ways to combat racism and systematic police brutality and gun violence"What, you think if you live next door to them, they'll treat you different?" (53)

Starr & Starr's Mom - 
about Khalil's mom - who has long-struggled with addiction and been MIA most of the time- "She turns around, tears streaking her face. 'That wasn't some li'l friend of hers. That was her son, you hear me? Her Son!' Her voice cracks. 'She carried that boy, birthed that boy. And you have no right to judge her.'" (92)

"You know none of this is your fault, right?" Momma asks.
How in the world did she do that? "I know."
"I mean it, baby. It's not. You did everything right."
"But sometimes right's not good enough, huh?"
She takes my hand, and despite my annoyance I let her. It's the closest thing I get to an answer for a while. (153)

"Brave doesn't mean you're not scared, Starr... It means you go on even though you're scared. And you're doing that." (331)

Starr & her Dad
"The Panthers educated and empowered the people. That tactic of empowering the oppressed goes even further back than the Panthers though. Name one." (168)

"My girl. Watch your mouth, but yeah, that's about right. And we won't stopped getting fucked till it changes. That's the key. It's gotta change... Exactly. We can't be silent." (171)

Starr's Parents
"Daddy's already gone to his and Momma's room. Their TV's on, and they're both lying on their stomachs on the bed, one of her legs on his as she types on her laptop. It's oddly adorable. Sometimes I watch them to get an idea of what I want one day." (203) 

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