Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Angie Thomas was one of the guest speakers at the Louisiana/Mississippi SCBWI KidLit conference this February, so I heard about her book in emails for weeks. I looked at the title, and the jacket, and thought, “This is probably a good book, but I don’t think I’m the target audience.” And I left it at that.
After hearing Angie describe her book, and why she wrote it, and what she hoped the book would say to the world (and the fact that it had just hit #1 on the NY Times list didn’t hurt), I changed my mind. Clearly, I was very much her target audience. I bought the book. I read the book. I passed on the book.
I highly, highly recommend The Hate U Give. The synopses are out there already, and I just have to echo so many other reviews in saying that this book is both timely and extremely well done. There are moments when I thought, “Yeah, I guess this is a first novel,” or “She is really driving home this point,” but it is all done so well within the world of the characters that it is totally believable. It is painfully enjoyable, in fact. Angie Thomas allows her characters to preach her truth through their lives, and her truth is beautiful.
What I loved about the characters in this book is the love they have for each other. Especially within Starr’s family. They are not perfect people, and they are not caricatures; they are ready to walk off the page, and I wanted to hug them all in their pain. But I realized I didn’t need to – Starr’s family is strong enough to support each other through anything. I especially appreciated Angie Thomas’ treatment of Starr’s parents: they are thoroughly real, not just a foil to create conflict or advance the plot. Honestly, Starr’s dad, Maverick, is my favorite character. For me, the fierce love and loyalty of Starr and her family is what makes this book shine.
Bonus: as intense as parts of the book get, the comic relief is perfect. It’s been awhile since I laughed out loud at a book, and this one had my kids running to see what I thought was sooo funny.
Angie Thomas took me to a world that white, suburban-born me had never encountered. And she welcomed me into it with open arms. I can only thank her for helping me see the world from that vantage point for a little while.
My concern is always, “Can I give this book to my daughter?” She’s 10, so for now, the answer is no. The language is strong, and while it’s not overdone, there are a couple of romantic scenes that would definitely be way too much for her. But when she’s older, I will expect her to read it. And I imagine she will love it as much as I have.

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