Review: The Hate You Give

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

I finished this book last night and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I’ve read nothing but accolades for this book but I’ll be honest, I didn’t love it. I had big expectations based on all the buzz surrounding it, and it was gritty, emotional, thought-provoking, uncomfortable and uplifting. The story and the character experience is important and relevant. The main character Starr is two characters really, she’s the daughter of an ex-con, former gang member who lives in a neighborhood of gang affiliation and drug violence and she’s a smart, shy high school student in a private school far from her neighborhood where she’s one of the only black students and has to assimilate and hide her other self. As the book starts, she sees her unarmed best friend shot by a police officer at a traffic stop and the book is her POV of the weeks that follow as her family, her neighborhood, and the community react. She lives in her two worlds and tries to not fall apart from the trauma of losing her friend while she tries to find her voice to speak out against injustice and systematic racism. Starr finds her voice is the best tool she has for change. The complexities of race, poverty, community, belonging, fear, anger and growing up form the central message of this book and it’s well done. That said, I had a hard time getting through the book for other reasons. I feel like it dragged in spots and it was repetitive and the language and structure seemed like a 16-year-old writer. I think it was intentional, not bad writing, but I’ve read plenty of other YA books with teen narrative that didn’t read like 16-year-olds wrote it. 4/5 stars

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