A review by audiobookmel
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

4.0

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

#4 Thomas’ debut novel, written as a reaction to the police shooting of Oscar Grant, includes drug use, profanity and sexual references, which are reasons it was challenged. It was also deemed “anti-cop,” according to the ALA.


So, I decided that I wanted to read a book for Banned Books Week, so I started looking through the list of the Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018 and this was on the list (at number 4, to be exact). Books are banned for a great many reasons. The Hate U Give is challenged because “banned and challenged because it was deemed ‘anti-cop,’ and for profanity, drug use, and sexual references”. While I disagree that this story is anti-police, I think it does portray the issues facing black communities and the police charged with protecting in those areas. Yes, there is also profanity and drug references and some sexual references. You could also “fault” it for gang violence. But I think all of these things make the story very real and relatable to teens today. I don’t think this book encourages any of the “negative” things that make it challenged. I feel it would help teens deal with these types of issues.

The Hate U Give follows the story of Star Carter. A teenage black girl who lives with one foot in the black community of Garden Heights and the mostly white prep school she goes to. When she goes to a party in Garden Heights, there is gun fire and she flees with an old, but estranged friend, a young black boy named Khalil. They are later pulled over by the cops, you can imagine where things go from there.

I really enjoyed this story, along with Star, her family and most of her friends. The Carters are a typical American family in that the parents want their kids’ lives to be better than their own. They are willing to do what they have to do to help make that happen, though her mother and father have different ideas on how to accomplish that better life.

I enjoyed watching the town come together when tragedy hits in more ways than one. It showed that even a town known for violence, the town is more than just the violence in it. There are people who are really trying to bring the community up and make it a safe place for people to live and work.

I liked seeing how Star struggled with the decision to come forward and speak about what happened to her and Khalil. Not just to talk to the police, but the grand jury and later publicly. Think about the strength needed for a sixteen year old girl to do this. I’m not sure I could and I’m forty-two.

I think the biggest takeaway for me (which I kinda knew, but this shined new light on it) was how the media portrayed Khalil. They focused all of their energy on every mistake the boy had made in his life. Sure, there were things that weren’t good, but nothing that should’ve cost him his life. I loved how Star talks about Kalil, the boy that she grew up with and tried to change the message that he wasn’t a thug.

I’m sure that I’m reading this book from a different perspective than people who can more closely relate to this story in their own lives, but I also think that this book should be read by people of all ages, races and backgrounds. It really makes you think about things, from another person’s perspective.

I think that this is a book that everyone should read. It is 100% worth the hype that it’s gotten. I’m not a huge reader of YA, and especially not contemporary YA (most YA, when I do read it, is speculative fiction). This book doesn’t read like a YA. Yeah, there’s some teenage angst, but that isn’t the driver of the story like some other YAs that I’ve read. I think you can be of any age and really connect with this story.

Narration
It is no secret that I’m a huge Bahni Turpin fan. I’ve been listening to her narration for a long time now. She is a narrator that, any time I see her name, I stop to see if the book sounds like something I’m interested in, because I just love her narration so much. She’s no different here. She really brings out the passion in the people of this story. You can really feel their pain, hatred, love and more. If you’ve never listened to her before, I highly recommend her work.