“The Hate you Give” rewrites issues about race

Medha Upadhyay

The plethora of Young Adult (YA) books that were released in 2017 are definitely worth celebrating. These wonderful books bring new characters and stories to life, but most notably, raise awareness about racial diversity. One such novel, “The Hate U Give” (THUG) by Angie Thomas, follows an African-American teenager named Starr Carter, as she witnesses a policeman shoot, and ultimately kill, her childhood best friend. The media quickly labels him as a mere drug dealer; thus, Starr is thrown into a media circus, unsure what to do with her newfound rage and fear. The reader is thrust into high-stakes emotional turmoil, waiting on the edge of their seat to find out what happens next.

One may consider “The Hate U Give” a modern “To Kill A Mockingbird;” it encompasses topics such as deep-rooted racism, activism, grief and family. THUG, however, was written for the young adults of today, as it is full of cultural references and issues that plague today’s teenagers. For example, Starr is in awe of a classmate who complains about visiting Harry Potter world every year, is an avid Tumblr user, bonds with her boyfriend over “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and is afraid of Khalil becoming a hashtag and nothing more. Teenage readers will find similarities between their lives and events in the book, making Starr seem more like a friend than a faraway fictional character.

While THUG is classified as a realistic fiction novel, the story can be enjoyed by all teenagers, no matter which genre they prefer. THUG gives the reader insight into a harsh reality that may be completely different from theirs. Starr’s day-to-day life differs greatly than one of a standard Lynbrook student. It is nearly impossible to fully understand Starr’s experiences without knowing the entire story. Thomas shows the whole truth about Khalil, and how he loved Harry Potter and fought with his mom, not just how he sold drugs to make ends meet.

The plot itself is full of twists and turns, keeping readers hooked. With heavy subjects such as police brutality and systemic racism, a happy ending is out of the question, but Thomas does give the reader closure. While Starr’s struggle to achieve justice for Khalil is the main highlight, Thomas manages to weave in several side plots that draw in other characters as well.

The characters in the story are realistic and three dimensional. They are complicated, lovable and pull readers into the storyline. The story features a realistic crew that affects Starr and her decisions. Key players include Starr’s step-siblings, neighbors and complicated private school friends.

The fact that Starr goes to a fancy suburban private school also sets her apart from other teenagers in her impoverished neighborhood of Garden Heights. She looks at the world from two different perspectives, giving her a deeper understanding of her environment and racism in particular. She finds herself interacting with people from all different backgrounds, allowing her to be more empathetic to the people around her.

After finishing this thought-provoking novel, don’t forget to watch the movie adaptation starring Amanda Stenberg, Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie and Sabrina Carpenter that is yet to be released.

While many noteworthy books were released last year, The Hate U Give stands out as a book that not only features a woman of color, but also makes the reader think and hope for a better world. If stories like this reached more people, perhaps we would be all be more understanding and empathetic, and have fewer problems with hate, anger and devastating violence. THUG is a moving story about today’s young adults, and those who pick up this book will surely be inspired to create change in their own way.