Renata, The John Mason Readers
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give Review- Renata Avignone Rossa
Motivating, moving and marvellous. Those are the only words that I can use describe this book. As someone who is extremely passionate about social activism, Angie Thomas has changed something inside of me, to speak out about the unfairness of our highly sexist, racist and xenophobic society. Angie Thomas has written the book without holding back; it is incredibly refreshing to read something so real without any of the elephant.
The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr Carter and her family, who live in the poor area of her town known as ‘The Ghetto’. After Starr is witness to the murder of her recently re-acquainted best friend to police brutality, she tries to live her life as normal. As Kahlil did nothing wrong, Starr is conflicted as to whether she should protect herself and keep silent; or if she should defend herself, her community and the rest if those subjected to police brutality.
Starr returns to her private school, where she is completely different to her ‘ghetto’ self. She doesn’t want anyone to have a reason for people to call her the angry black girl. Starr is living a double life.
However, one thing that she has in common with her friends Maya and Hailey and her boyfriend Chris, is their love of basketball. Starr plays for the team and there she can lose herself without being known as Poor Starr Who Saw Her Best Friend Get Killed. For her, Williamson (the school she attends) is the only normal part of her life, meaning she must keep her identity as a witness secret.
Not only is she dealing with the murder of Kahlil but she is also dealing with drama with the gangs and their ties to her family. Her father (known as Big Mav) was once part of the King Lords Gang, but after serving 3 years in jail he decided that was the end of his life as a gang member. However, him and King’s (the ultimate King Lord) wife Iesha had an affair and had a son called Seven. Starr, Seneki and Seven are all related to King’s family. Furthermore, Iesha is an abusive mother to Kenya, Lyric and Seven- her children; as King is abusive to her and she needs an outlet.
At the request of the police, the very same who killed her best friends, Starr has to present her eye witness statement. With the wounds still fresh, Starr retells the horrific memory in as much detail as possible; however to her surprise they begin to ask questions that are invasive and personal, that seem to accuse her best friend as a thug, gang man and brutish drug dealer. Starr is in complete confusion as the police men seem to put the words in his mouth and present Kahlil as though he pointed the gun to his head and asked for the policeman to pull the trigger. Even though, the police claim that they want justice and for everyone to feel the case has been done justice, Starr is crushed by the intense pressure to not be presented as a girl from the hood.
A few weeks after the murder it’s Khalil's funeral, everyone is in deep mourning after all he represents so much more than himself, he represents the entire community of those who have been subjected to police brutality and oppression. As the reality of the situation hits her, Starr realises that she can no longer hide away. Once the funeral is over, Starr is approached by a representative from Just Us For Justice, April Ofrah who is willing to do anything to for the case of Kahlil to be represented and heard by the media. The world needs to hear the reality of the intense discrimination against those of Starr’s community. Those in the community begun to see the light and the value of the situation, their grieving turned into hope for the future and a change in their society. Suddenly, the King Lords enter the funeral-uninvited. Along with him, King brings Seven’s mum Iesha. The tension in the room is suffocating and with no explanation, they lay a bandana on Khalil's body- a sign of the King Lord’s farewell to the their fallen. Starr is in utter shock, she was convinced that Kahlil was innocent. This motivates her even more to make change in her fractured society. The funeral brings memories flooding back of her best friend Natasha who was brutally murdered whilst playing in the street, right in front of Starr. Sobbing wildly, Starr returns home, but with hope.
The night after the funeral, Starr is home with her family, as they turn on the TV they hear reports of riots in their neighbourhood protesting Khalil's unfair death. They begin to hear gunshots; the neighbourhood is angry and thirsty for change. The news begin to report on Khalil referring to a mystery witness, and then cut to the intense scenes of sirens blaring, fires scorching and rioters fighting for their cause. The truth settles, her life is in the middle of a war. Whilst deep in thought, the news report that their was a supposed gun in Khalil’s car the night of his murder, stunned Starr is confused; one thing she is sure of: he NEVER should have been murdered.
The next week, as Starr walks into school, she discerns that something bizarre is happening, everything is oddly silent. She is alerted by her best friends Hailey and Maya that the students are planning to protest, however for all the wrongs reasons- they want to use the tragedy as an excuse to miss lessons. They don’t even begin to fathom how scarring the experience was. Starr’s withheld anger boiled over and she loses the tame Williamson Starr reputation she tried to build. She storms off and realises how little people really care about the cause they are supposedly protesting for. She refuses to take part of the protest and realises that those who stayed back from the protests are making more of the statement than those who are. Loyally, her boyfriend and some of her basketball team stick with her. When she gets home, she is apprised the news that the government has made a curfew for her neighbourhood and all those who didn’t stick to it would be arrested. Those of the neighbourhood are interviewed, and breaking all of the rules one of Starr’s family friends snitches on the King Lords- that is the number one rule of how to be granted your death wish. Abruptly, police arrives and force Starr’s dad to his knees and abuse him although he did nothing wrong. Although he is let free, their actions spoke louder than their words- they were going to carry on attacking, and they didn’t plan on stopping.
When the family receive a phone call that they want Starr to interview on live TV and explain the REAL story of what happened to Khalil on the night of his murder. That very night, Starr’s family friend is attacked by King Lords for snitching and in fear the family run to their uncle’s house in the safe suburbs. After a huge row Starr runs to her friend’s house. Maya is with Hailey in her room and Starr decides she must address their tension and argument once and for all. She walks up and the confrontation begins. She asks why Hailey is so techy about all of her Black Lives Matter posts online and why she gets uncomfortable when people accuse her of being racist after subtle suggestive jokes and digs she’s made to Starr being Black and Maya being Chinese. Hailey doesn’t respond and storms out; this causes Maya to tell Starr how rude Hailey has been. They make the decision that they as minorities should unite and not follow Hailey around as they used to do. Furthermore, when Starr gets home she talks to her mum about the growing situation with Hailey and she explains that Starr has always followed Hailey around and honestly she’s never liked her. They watch the interview that the policeman’s father gave about how he was only protecting himself and he felt scared of them, but Starr realises the fakeness after he claims to have been threatened by them- they are only two kids. This motivates her more to be loud and proud on her TV interview. She is no longer afraid of speaking out and she wants to make sure her words have impact. At every opportunity she gets she tries to fortify her words and ensure it packs a punch- especially to the policeman who shot her best friend.
A few weeks later, Starr has to appear in court as a witness and furthermore prove Khalil innocent and the Policeman (1-15) guilty. At first, the nerves kick in: she must go in alone. However, as soon as she sees the majority of the court defending an unprovoked murder she realises that it is ALL down to her. She plays her part and gives all the details, no matter how minute. The hearing is over.
Weeks pass, with no judgement being passed. However, there have been many changes in their lives. DeVante (a young teen looking to get out of the drug circle) has moved in with Starr’s Uncle Carlos and the entire Carter family has moved into a nicer safer area in light of the riots. On one fateful day, the news passes, Khalil has been judged. 1-15 is innocent. Rage boiling through her veins, Starr can’t contain herself. She did everything she could, yet they still voted against him! She decides to spend the day at her boyfriend (Chris’) house, when she receives a phone call from her brother Seven. Frantic, Seven explains that DeVante has been hurt and they need to rescue him. Without an explanation the two of them race of with a confused Chris behind them. They arrive at King’s house where a wild party is being held, sneaking in they arrive at where DeVante lays, severely injured on the floor. Between them all they manage to prop his limp form up and crawl into the awaiting car. Eventually, they decide to head to Starr’s father’s shop, however, only half way there they run out of gas. With failing attempts to push the car, they decide they should walk to the nearest gas station. As soon as they are almost there, they begin to hear the cajoling cries of anger for Khalil’s injustice. Starr, whose emotions are amplified by this, decides to join in. On the roof of a car, she joins her Just Us For Justice employee and holding a huge megaphone she begins to cheer them on. Surrounded by a thick barrier of policemen, who throw tear gas, she lobs it right back at them- they can’t get away with it. However, when the protest turns into a riot; looters begin to steal from the surrounding businesses, the four of them realise that they need to get out- this is not right.
When they finally arrive at the store, and are looking for bandages, the store is set on fire, the four of them like caged animals inside. Luckily, the neighbours spot them and manages to rescue them. It is here Starr realises. Realises that they can’t fire with fire, they have to make a change, rebuild their broken world. They can’t make things the way they were, and salvage the past. They need to bulldoze everything for a better future.
This book was exquisitely written, with a beautiful moral and the author’s use of a relatable teen’s narration makes this a highly worthwhile read. Angie Thomas has captured the essence of protesting for basic human rights and her ability to not bow down to political and social correctness is not only admirable but makes her work an even more appealing read. She has embodied such a huge movement through this book and explains not only what it means to be black but what it means to be an activist. It is inspiring and moving, and never includes a dull moment. The tie of her family life, police brutality and the realisations of her world, make this hugely effective and moving. I could not recommend this highly enough,
Posted on: 27th March 2018 at 11:50 am