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Children’s Book Committee-June 2017 Pick

June 8, 2017

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

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Young, black, unarmed, killed by police.  And sixteen year old Starr Carter was there. She has to tell her story and fight back but how?

Ages 16 – 18

Our Young Reviewer Says:

Without a doubt, The Hate U Give is an important novel. Angie Thomas effectively imparts the message of the pernicious effects of discrimination, especially police brutality. She does so primarily through the characterization of her protagonist, Starr Carter. Thomas describes Starr in two ways: as a regular high school student with teenage angst and as a girl struggling to find her identity. The two faces of Starr not only emphasize the validity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that separate facilities cannot be equal, but also make Starr normal enough that readers easily identify with her and extraordinary enough that readers can make a hero out of her. So, as Starr realizes that she cannot remain silent about the unjust killing of her friend, Khalil, the readers understand her thought process and wish to be brave enough to emulate her. In addition, the realistic plot aids in conveying the message. For example, because Khalil reached for a comb in his car, the police could claim that Officer Brian felt threatened, a common excuse for police departments. Thomas shows that the excuse is just that: an excuse. Police officers should rely on their firearms as absolute last resorts, not just as tools to make themselves feel safer.

However, the anti-discrimination message in The Hate U Give is not delivered perfectly. The major problem is the portrayal of Hailey, Starr’s erstwhile best friend. Hailey is ignorant that many of her comments are micro-aggressions that hurt her two minority friends, and her friendship with Starr is ruined when she attempts to defend Officer Brian. Eventually, Starr and her other friend, an Asian-American girl, form a “minority alliance” against Hailey and the white culture that she represents. Unfortunately, this alliance seems antithetical to the novel’s message of acceptance. To overcome our race-related issues, alliances must be based on a shared belief in equality, not on skin color.

Foster, Age 17, Anchorage, Alaska

 
Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers.  If you are interested in being a reviewer,  contact bookcom@bankstreet.edu

 

 

 

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