Monday, 9 July 2018

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Book: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Pages: 447

Publisher: Penguin 

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Read On: Paperback Collector's Edition

Plot Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

General Thoughts: This book has been spoken about highly since it first came out. The rave reviews have followed it everywhere. I had been meaning to read it for the longest time. But I was having a hard time getting my hands on the 'right' edition of the book. Total random bookworm problems! :) Luckily for me, the kind folks at Penguin Random House India sent me this beautiful copy of the book that has honestly sat on my wish list for far too long.

The review that follows and all the thought about the book are my own.

Things I Liked: 

1. The rave reviews are all true. This is one incredible book. To call it timely, needed, important and far too relevant are right. This book and this conversation needs to happen. What is happening in America and what keeps on happening with shocking regularity is truly appalling. Police violence aimed at African Americans is a problem that you simply can't ignore. And more people need to talk about it and acknowledge it's far reaching effects. Being Indian and sitting a whole world away from these distressing headlines always made me wonder who people living in America,  especially the people targeted by these crime deal with it? How do you go about your daily life knowing that the very people meant to protect you could target you unfairly? This book gives wonderful and real insight into the hearts and minds of people dealing with this.

2. This book is being made into a film, the trailer for which is already out and it looks so good! I think this is a perfect book for a film adaptation and I am so excited to watch the film and see if it measures up to the book. So far, the casting and vibe seem on point!

3.This is a very powerful and poignant book. Even if the headlines and the mindless tragedy hasn't moved you, this story will. It takes you inside the world of the victim and the aftermath of  unnecessary violence. A look beyond sensational headlines and charged op-eds. A look at what the people left behind deal with. An eye-opening read.

4. I loved the sense of community that comes across in this book. The Black community rallies together and stands tall and strong. I absolutely loved reading about Starr's neighbourhood, it isn't perfect, in fact it's fairly scary. Gangs, gunshots, riots and unsavoury elements are rampant. The author has not shied away from showing it the way it is. But there is also warmth and love and a strong sense of community and kinship.

5. The stark contrast between both of Starr's worlds is shown brilliantly. And will give you something to think about. I also loved how Starr is two sorta different people in each set-up.

6. Another thing I loved a whole lot was Starr's family. Her wonderful parents, her uncle, and her siblings. I loved the time we spend with them. I can't wait to see these relationships translate on the big screen. This book is full of some wonderfully crafted characters. None of them are perfect or stereotypical in any way. They all come across as real people, flaws and all.

7. Racism is an ugly, hideous and abhorrent thing that exists in our world. This book shows us racism in it's many forms. From the cop that pulls the trigger on a kid, sadly a common form racism takes but there are the so not obvious ways in which it manifests. It's not always a stranger who is racist or an older person who 'doesn't know better' or 'is from a different time'. Sometimes, it's your friend, a classmate, someone who seems 'so woke'. I like that this book shows us both sides and sometimes the subtle and ingrained racism so many people have.

8. I thought the author did a fantastic job of showing Starr's mental state after the fact. Everything she goes through seems so real and heartbreaking and relatable.

9. I also liked that Starr wasn't immediately an activist. She was in shock and terrified and scared and grief struck. I thought her whole journey from being confused to scared to finally coming around to finding her voice was entirely believable. Some teens are strong and find their voice at once, the incredible kids from Parkland are a shining example of that, but for others it takes time and a certain amount of healing to stand up and speak up. ( I have some more thoughts on this, will touch more on it in the next section.)

10. Even though this book is hard to read it some parts, it is still one that I didn't want to put down. It made me sad, angry, frustrated and furious but it was always engaging.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Starr is pretty incredible in so many ways. But...I had a hard time really loving her. Yes, she witnessed something terrible and frightening. Something I don't even want to imagine. To see a close friend being gunned down must be horrible. But shouldn't this horrible things galvanise you into doing something? The right thing? I don't know for a huge chunk of the book I wanted her to be better and do better. It's perhaps being too demanding but in the wake of the kick-ass heroes of Parkland, Starr's self preservation was a bit hard to swallow.

2. I found it a bit strange that a majority of kids in Starr's private school were assholes. Most of them subtly or not to subtly racist and most of them didn't seem to quite care. It made things far too binary and simplistic.

Rating: 4/5

This was such a good book and I cannot wait to see the film adaptation!

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