An important novel for this generation by SuzanneLaPierre []
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The hate u give

by Angie Thomas

  Print book : Fiction : Secondary (senior high) school  |  First edition

An important novel for this generation   (2018-02-06)


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by SuzanneLaPierre

This astonishing debut novel is an important book for our times because it tackles the big issues that many shy away from- but at the same time it's just a really great absorbing read with complex characters and a gripping story line. The novel encompasses Black Lives Matter issues (without using that term), gang violence, drug abuse and the drug trade, domestic abuse and race relations. But underpinning all of that drama is a warm solid extended family that holds one another up no matter what, a lot of humor, second chances, community-building, positive romance, and enduring friendships. 

Starr balances between two worlds in many ways: her mother is a professional nurse while her father has served time in prison but now runs a convenience store; she’s black but attends a mostly white school and has a white boyfriend; she has family members who live in Garden Heights- aka the “ghetto”- and others who live in an expensive gated community. She feels like she has to put on a different persona depending on where she is and who she is with, and this bothers her more over time as she struggles to grow into her authentic self.

The central plot revolves a night during which Starr leaves a party in her urban neighborhood with her childhood friend Khalil. There had been trouble at the party, so Khalil offered to drive her home, but on the way they get pulled over and a misunderstanding results in Khalil being shot and killed by a white policeman. Starr’s life can never go back to normal as she is slowly drawn to speak out in the aftermath. 

While Starr's father was in prison (spoiler alert: we later learn he took the rap for someone else) her uncle, who is a cop, acted as a second father to her and he still loves and protects her. So she essentially has two supportive father-figures she adores - one a light-skinned cop and the other her tough tattooed ex-con Daddy (the tattoos are images of his children, along with his pledge: Something to live for/ Something to die for). That's just one example of how this narrative straddles different perspectives and doesn't vilify or glorify anyone. There are people who do good and others who do wrong, but more often there are fairly decent human beings who have flaws but try to work it out as they make their way through the world. 

There are many layers to this onion, and it's sure to spark conversation about race relations, racism in many of its obvious and more subtle forms, as well as giving back to one's community, being true to one's values, and loving others- when the good outweighs the bad- in spite of their imperfections and mistakes.

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