Believe the hype.
I knew I wanted to read this ever since it first got announced. I am someone who doesn’t live in America. I am from a small country in Europe, so I am “removed” from the topic of this book. However, I am a heavy Internet user, so the Black Lives Matter movement is something that I’ve read about, and to me it’s completely insane that these things happen to people. I hate it. And I was ecstatic to hear that someone decided to tackle this topic, especially in YA. While I am sure that there are other books that deal with this theme (HIT ME UP WITH RECS), this was the first one that got so much hype and so much popularity and I am so so glad it did. I think reaching out to the younger audience with important topics is really important and I was so eager to pick this one up.
I fell head over heels in love with this book. I am going to spare you more of the “this is oh-so-very-important talk” because everyone has already said that, and I do not feel that I can contribute to that part of the experience. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that this is something that is very relevant and that we NEED more books like this one. We NEED to discuss these things. We NEED more diversity so we can open up conversations and so we can work on these things.
As for this review, I want to talk not about what makes this book relevant, but about what makes this book SPECTACULAR.
First of all, Starr is a wonderful main character. She is passionate and she is happy, but she is struggling with her sense of identity. She is struggling to find her place and to position herself between her own culture and her own race and identity, and the fact that she is attending a rich, private, mostly white school and the fact that she has to be a subdued version of herself in that school. This is one of the things that Thomas does exceptionally well. Starr’s coming of age path is more complex than what you usually see in contemporary YA (meaning the usual white teen story) and therefore is more difficult and has more layers to it. I loved how all of this was handled and how good Thomas was at conveying Starr’s feelings and how she managed to create a character that makes you root and feel for her so completely. I was with Starr throughout the whole novel and I was so very engaged and I love how that was made possible by the exquisite writing.
Thomas’ secondary characters are all so wonderful. I loved all of them. My favorite thing about this book is the fact that Starr has a wonderful, loving family. A flawed one, like any other, obviously. But a family so caring and so loving. We do not get enough of that in YA. We get these broken homes and awful parents and this book showcases a family who is supportive and whose members adore one another. I loved that.
Also, the relationships between Starr and all of the people in her life were so phenomenally written. From her school friends to her neighborhood friends to her family, all of them were so fleshed out and so well done and so realistic that I was in a bit of a shock, honestly. None of the characters felt underdeveloped. It was all so very well done.
Also, kudos to Angie Thomas for including the Internet. For some odd reason, YA completely ignores the fact that teenagers spend a huge portion of their time online. The fact is that online communities are a big part of our lives. For example, there’s a storyline in here about unfollowing someone on Tumblr and Thomas did a great job at conveying how that act can have a meaning and how it’s not trivial. It’s something that can be a statement and that can have significance and can be a message.
Lastly, I want to discuss one more point. It’s hard reviewing books that deal with important topics. If you don’t like a book, there’s a sense of reprimand and criticism that hits you once you say that you did not like a book that deals with a certain topic. People tend to take it as if you are not respectful of the fact that the book is relevant and necessary. Which is never the case. You just happen to not like the book itself, which doesn’t mean that you are not supportive of that particular topic or theme (meaning diversity in any shape or form).
I have read my fair share of these books. They are diverse and talk about important topics but they weren’t good for me personally. I did not like them. They did not make me feel anything, even though I understand their importance on the cognitive level. It just doesn’t reach my emotional level.
This is not the case with The Hate U Give. This book made me FEEL. It made me angry, it made me cry, it made me sad, and happy and excited and righteous. It’s an engaging read. Angie Thomas manages to make you feel. And that’s what makes this book special. It’s powerful in every sense of that word.
So what’s the main take away? Read this. Give it to your friends. Give it to your family. Pass it around on the street. There is so much to love in here and more importantly, SO MUCH TO LEARN. As a white and non-American reader I learned so much from this, and I am never the person to take that for granted. Obviously I highly highly recommend it.
Final verdict: 5 stars
If you’ve read this, be sure to let me know how you felt about it! I am so eager to hear your thoughts and observations!
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