It is nearly impossible to ignore the honorable mentions and accolades being handed over to debut novelist Angie Thomas for her YA book “The Hate U Give.” The literary world has been ablaze with praise for the Black Lives Matter inspired narrative. It has spent 49 consecutive weeks as the number one New York Times bestselling YA novel, down to number two only this week.
And all with good reason. A new classic has arrived.
Protagonist Starr Carter straddles the line between two worlds. She lives in a poor black neighborhood but attends a mostly-white suburban private school. One night after sneaking out to her first neighborhood party, gunfire erupts and a frenzy ensues. Her childhood best friend insists on driving her to safety and en route is stopped by the police. Starr watches as he is gun downed during a routine traffic stop. By sixteen, Starr has now lost two of her best friends to gun violence, one by the streets and one by the very individuals who are sworn to protect and defend.
She must decide how to move forward and use her voice to try to make a difference. She must discover what it means and how it feels to be brave.
The soundtrack laced throughout the story has both contemporary and throwback classics from Kendrick Lamar and Drake to Tupac and NWA. And Starr’s character feels familiar, from her love for Jordans and Lebron to her struggle with playing a role at school so as not to be described as the “angry black woman” or “ghetto.” This novel reads like a drama movie from beginning to end. So, I was not surprised when my research revealed the movie based on this book is already in post-production with some heavy hitters like Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall and Common on the cast.
Angie Thomas wrote a raw and riveting story about an all-too-true modern-day political climate. There are a few unsettling reviews floating around on the internet that this novel revolves around police-hate and reverse-racism. That is ludicrous. This novel is a contemporary coming-of-age story that explores police brutality, gang violence, racism, interracial relationships, and unity.
Thank you, Angie. You did it for the culture.