The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
I finished this book a little over a week ago, and I’m still not sure how to discuss it, or what to comment on. I can’t remember ever reading a book that felt this real, that I could empathize with this much, or that looked like the world we’ve been living in. My goal with this review is to state the facts of this book, with a limited number of my personal opinions thrown into the mix.
Our main character attends a party where she reconnects with her childhood best friend. There is a shooting at the party, which both teenagers are able to safely escape. As they are driving home, they are pulled over by a police officer, which leads to the officer shooting the childhood friend, and threatening to shoot our main character.
The novel proceeds to guide us through our main character’s grief. We watch as she tries to navigate a school environment where she is the second black person in her class. We watch as she is taken to the police station to give her statement, and instead the officers ask her if she knew her friend was selling drugs. We watch as she spirals in and out of her trauma, and decides to testify in court. We watch as the court rules in favor of the officer, as her neighborhood learns that she is the witness, and as the gangs decide she is a snitch.
We watch her learn to use her voice as a weapon, while weapons are trained on her during a protest. And as I read this book, it felt like I was reading about George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor. It didn’t feel like this story revolved around some fictional “tragic accident”, a “one time thing”, that just so happened to conclude with a race driven homicide getting a slap on the wrist. It felt like being pulled into a never ending loop; groundhog’s day if the groundhog lived in the hood and had never seen sunlight.
I wondered early on if this book would end with any sense of hope, or be shadowed by harsh reality. I choose to believe we got a bit of both. The reality is that this isn’t just a fictional story. The hope is that we have a new President, and a generation of people who fundamentally understand that. I hope change is coming. I hope.