Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

"Pac said Thug Life stood for 'The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody'"

I finished The Hate You Give a little earlier in the year and was so moved and so impressed by Angie Thomas' debut book. Months later, it was announced that the book is being adapted into a film with a cast including Amandla Stanberg, Anthony Mackie, Common (!!) and Issa Fricking Rae?! Sooo I essentially need you to read this book if you haven't already before the end of this year so we can all get excited about the upcoming release ! And besides, we'll probably all be hearing the whole "the book was better than the film" speel so let's all do better and read the book first.

The Hate You Give is about Starr Carter, a 16 year old growing up in a working class neighbourhood, and schooling in a middle class, predominantly white neighbourhood. The story is told from her perspective and the very beginning, she seems perfectly well adjusted. Everything changes after one evening when she's in the passenger seat of a car with her older friend Khalil driving. He's inexplicably stopped and searched by a police officer during their journey and, in an unfortunate set of events we know all too well, is shot and killed by the police. Khalil was unarmed.

His death becomes a headline and again, in a narrative we know all too well , the press call him a thug, a drug dealer and these names are used as justification for such violence at the hands of the police.

The story isn't about the shooting itself but rather what follows. We really get to understand the very complex ramifications this shooting is going to have on two different neighbourhoods in terms of, how it's interpreted and how it affects gangs, the media and local families. But because we get this beautiful first person narrative, all of this is portrayed through Starr's eyes. At 16, she's learning to navigate the world and trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs given that she's been growing up in 2 completely different neighbourhoods. And now, has to also deal with the really violent death of her best friend, one that she witnessed. Thrown into the mix are all sorts of funky family dynamics. And so what Angie Thomas gives us is a really well fleshed out story, with incredible attention to detail and feels so authentic.

Often, stories like these (either in the press or in literature) would focus on the event itself. And while I'm so fortunate to have never experienced anything like this, the book is like stepping right into Starr's life at this moment in time. Because of course when someone dies (and I imagine especially in this way) there are about 1000 emotions those they left behind would be going through, and this story is really faithful to that.

There are quite a few people who are significant to Starr's world who hence, we have to get to know quite well, but everyone is given a lot of attention by the author which meant I get a really good insight into who everyone is, flaws and all. The author is also a big Tupac fan and I loved loved loved how both he and the story of hip hop form are interwoven into the story and the fabric of Starr's character and the relationship she has with her dad. 

It was just one of the most emotional books I've read this year I think because Angie Thomas' writing is incredibly visceral. The Hate You Give is about family, family, community, finding yourself and also empowering those around you.  I say do yourself a service and pick it up before the end of the year. 



  1. I read this during the summer and it's probably one of my favourite books of the year. It's so emotional, but seriously powerful and leaves such a long lasting impression - I hope the film does the book justice x

    Charlotte / Colours & Carousels

    1. Me too! Angie Thomas is involved in the production though so I have high hopes !


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