The young adult novel THE HATE U GIVE came out in movie theaters in October 2018 and it’s been on best seller lists since it came out in the Winter of 2017, but that’s not why you should read it. You should read it because it will make you uncomfortable.
It’s a story we unfortunately know all too well. THE HATE U GIVE was inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Regardless of where you stand on the politics, you should read the book. Why? For the same reason we should read any book. Books get us outside of the limited walls of our own life and place us squarely in another’s. Somehow, when we are immersed in that other world for the hours it takes to read the book, we are there, we are them, and if the book is well-written when we’re done, we’re no longer the same.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter lives in two worlds – the poor black community where she lives and where her father runs the neighborhood grocery store and the suburban prep school she attends where her parents believe she will be safe. But everything changes one night when she attends a party with her childhood friend, Khalil, and on the way home they are pulled over by the police. Khalil is fatally shot by the police officer. He was unarmed. The only person who really knows what happened that night is Starr and she must testify at a trial. Starr and her family are torn between doing the right thing and keeping her safe. She is at the apex of a conflict, the birth of a social movement.
Starr must weigh the personal cost of doing what she believes is the right thing. Thomas writes:
“It would be easy to quit if it was just about me, Khalil, that night and that cop. It’s about way more than that though. It’s about Seven. Sekani. Kenya. DeVante. It’s also about Oscar. Aiyana. Trayvon. Rekia. Michael. Eric. Tamir. John. Ezell. Sandra. Freddie. Alton. Philando. It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first – Emmett.”
And maybe, for the time we are reading THE HATE U GIVE it’s about all of us.