28 Days of Literary Blackness with VSB | Day 25: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Literary Blackness with VSB | Day 25: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Image: The Hate U Give (Harper Collins

Publisher Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.


Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Despite my criticisms of the movie, I actually enjoyed the book itself. Granted, the book had its share of critics, but I walked into it thinking it was a young-adult novel (it is) and read it from that lens and it worked for me. I thought Angie Thomas did a good job with nuance in the book and creating a storyline that wasn’t just a cut-and-dry story. Starr, the lead character, has an uncle who is a police officer in the same precinct as the officer who killed her best friend, Khalil. And he’s not the profiling, pseudo-sellout as portrayed by Common in the movie. In the book, he’s basically ‘bout that life.

I chose this book because it hit the national consciousness by virtue of being turned into a conversation-piece as a movie. But it’s worth the read. It is actually a page turner, as I read the entire thing in a single day’s worth of plane delays and flights trying to get from Washington, D.C., to Birmingham, Ala., for a wedding I almost missed because of said delays. I thought The Hate U Give did a good job of tackling a lot of different subjects with care, and ultimately I’m glad I read it. I’m waiting at this point for when I can let my daughter read it, though there are some parts that I think are too old for a 10-year-old.

Either way, for a good long while, The Hate U Give dominated a lot of conversation, and every festival I went to was talking about the movie. Well, since there’s a book tied to it written by a black woman, and the book is better than the movie, I figured the book should get its shine. Anything else is uncivilized.


The Hate U Give (2017) by Angie Thomas

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



When I bought the book, I didn’t realize that it was under the Young Adult category, but that didn’t change my feelings. This book was excellent and the movie did it no justice.