Angie Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a must-read for our young people. It tells the story of 16-year-old Starr, who lives in a poor neighborhood but goes to a prep school in a wealthy suburb. She witnesses her best friend, Khalil, murdered by police. It cleverly tells the common, opposing narratives that occur between these communities when police go Rambo. Starr has to navigate between two worlds where her friend is seen either as a victim or as a criminal.
Thomas began writing The Hate U Give after the 2009 fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old black man in Oakland, Calif. After a reportedly heated auction among major publishing houses, HarperCollins acquired the novel for an undisclosed but apparently sizable amount. It has been breaking barriers ever since.
The Hate U Give is currently No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list in the Young Adult Hardcover category. It was also recently announced that the novel is being adapted into a film. It will be directed by George Tillman Jr., who directed Notorious and Soul Food. Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg is set to play Starr.
Many would have thought that a story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement would be a turnoff for major publishers and production companies, but Thomas was never discouraged or tempted to shy away from telling her truth.
“Learning that your voice matters and that it can effect change—that’s the first step in not being afraid to speak out,” she says.