In honor of Black History Month, I would like to share one of my favorite books written by a black author.
The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: young adult/fiction
Length: 444 pages
Published: February 28, 2017
This story follows Starr, a 16-year-old black girl that grew up in the hood neighborhood of Garden Heights. After gunshots ring out at a party she was attending, she flees in her childhood friend’s car when they then get pulled over by a policeman for a broken taillight. Assumptions, fear, and prejudice result in the dealt of her friend by the cop. This tale follows Starr as she struggles with self-identity, fear, and justice.
This is such a powerful book, one that illuminates the realities of life as an African American. Though it may be a fictional book, its word holds truth. The truth of an African American who faces prejudice and whose voice fights to be heard.
Starr struggles to determine what defines her; is it her race? her neighborhood? her mannerisms or habits? Before she found her voice, she thought she was defined by her skin color. Attending a prestigious private school with a predominantly wealthy, white population, she believed she had to speak proper English, act docile, behave like a watered-down version of herself in order to fit in, to avoid judgement from her peers. She was consumed by other’s opinions, insecurities, and the fear that being herself was not enough that “There are just some places where it’snot enough to be me.” This aspect of her character is relatable, realistic. She is not the perfect, brave heroine readers grow envious of. Starr has aspects of herself that she is hesitant to display, as do many. We become hesitant, afraid that others will think less of ourselves should they witness the things we keep hidden. Starr Carter learns that oneself is not defined by physical or outward characteristics like race, or financial stability but in the experiences one faces and how they are overcome. That in terms of yourself, your body, your actions, the only opinion that matters is your own. For as her mother said, as long as you feel you’re doing right, that’s all that matters.
This book granted me the opportunity to experience life from another’s shoes, made me realize the things I take for granted, and on a less-serious note, turned me onto Tupac’s music. I encourage you all to read this book. It was powerful, moving, and definitely memorable.
“‘Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, Starr,” she [Starr’s mom] says. “It means you go on even though you’re scared.'”
“‘Just like y’all think all of us are bad because of some people, we think the same about y’all.'”
“Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.”