‘The Hate U Give’ challenges and entertains

Lisa Sanphilippo, Writer

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Angie Thomas’s first novel, “The Hate U Give,” spent 110 weeks on the New York Times bestseller young adult hardcovers book list according to NewYorkTimes.com. BannedBooks.org noted it was also on the American Library Association’s top 10 challenged and banned books. Did I mention it was controversial?
The book is filled with complex characters trying to deal with complicated and tragic circumstances. The lead character, Starr, is a 16-year-old who struggles to understand her own identity and place within her community. She is funny and written true to her age and time. The book doesn’t pull any punches. There are times when it is very difficult to read because it challenges the reader to think about how they perceive race and social justice.
Starr’s family is a wonderful group of dynamic individuals. Even within the family, their ideologies differ, and they must find their way to understanding and acceptance. Regardless of their disagreements, they continue to show one another love and respect, even if they are mad at each other. I wanted to hang out with them longer than the book allowed.
Right from the start, I was sucked into Starr’s world of white suburban elite school filled with mostly white teens juxtaposed with her predominately African American neighborhood and community. There’s all the stuff you think about as a teen: fitting in, being attracted to someone, wondering if you’re cool enough, doing stuff you shouldn’t be doing and figuring out who you are – but it is all exacerbated by the intricacies of navigating life as a black person.
Every person in the book is written as a whole person, not just a one-sided villain or hero. All are multi-dimensional with flaws and strengths. I believe the author does a remarkable job of revealing many sides of a situation.
This book made me think about biases I may have. It made me think about the ease with which I walk through this world compared to that of others, particularly people of color. Should you decide to pick this novel up — and I highly recommend you do — keep an open mind. You may not agree with some of it. You may not have any experience with some of its ideas or situations. But, it’s worth thinking about your reactions to the novel and considering your own biases. And, while it is extremely important to continually evaluate our prejudices, “The Hate U Give” is a captivating story that kept me engaged the entire time.
Please note: “The Hate U Give” has some strong language and violent situations.