The Hate You Give 6 April
It seems the world has been waiting for Angie Thomas’ book for a long time. When it was released it took the publishing world by storm. It has spent fifty-four weeks on the New York Times’ Young Adult best-seller list. The title was optioned for film rights before it was even published. And it gives hope to the thousands of young African-American readers whom the story is about.
At the center is Starr Carter - perceptive, conscientious, and scared out of her wits. After witnessing one of her closest friends being murdered by a police officer she is struggling with the need to speak out, while also worrying about risking her own life and that of her family’s if she does. It is a difficult situation for any child to be in, but for one who is black in America, her every move is weighted with symbolism and meaning. Staying quiet means she feels like she’s letting her family and other kids like her down. Speaking up means that her carefully compartmentalized world comes crumbling down - she will have to weather the judgments from her classmates at the private school she goes to, while fearing for the lives of her neighbours.
The novel takes its title from the famous Tupac lyric, the entirety of which is: “The Hate You Give Little Infants F***s Everyone.” Thomas does not shy away from this truth. Everything that the adults in Starr’s life do and say influences her in some way. She remembers every judgmental statement and biased action. The callous remarks of her students and teachers do not go unnoticed. The divisive reactions that the shooting ignites become singed into her memory. This books calls all its readers to action, urges us to question our thinking, to open our eyes and hearts a little wider.
Thomas tackles a frightening reality, but she does it with heart and warmth. She never forgets that this is a novel from an adolescent’s perspective - despite Starr having to deal with such a horrible experience, her fresh voice, her light-hearted humour, and zeal for justice shines through. Similarly, the strength and warmth of Starr’s family also helps to hold this story together. They are a real family - with all the rough edges and dysfunctional quirks that is the norm for many, but infused with real, enduring love that sustains them through such harrowing times.
Angie Thomas has created a strong voice in Starr Carter, and she has given us a novel which is quickly and undeniably becoming a classic. Do yourself a favour and read it. Then get everyone else you know to read it, too.
Reviewer: Faustina Paustin
Walker Books, RRP $19.99