Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Banned Book Club #2)

Banned for swearing and discussion of drug use.

"Khalil and I have been on trial since he died." - Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give, page 329

Isn't it interesting how both of the books we've read so far are about social issues? Banning books is a form of censorship that hides behind moral panic. This novel that paints drug use as something that ruins lives, and aren't drugs discussed at school anyway? Don't we have event days and classes about not taking them? And how many teenagers do you know haven't heard swear words before? This book hasn't been banned for anything that the average teenager could not handle.

The Hate U Give is about the unlawful killing of unarmed black people by the police in the USA. It's told from the perspective of Starr Carter, a teenager who witnessed the death of her friend Khalil. I found this really hard to rate because usually I rate on enjoyment, but this isn't a topic anyone should enjoy reading about. This is a novel that's going to make you think and maybe make you a bit uncomfortable at times, but it's a really good read and it has a powerful message. 

What really struck me about Starr as a character was that I could actually believe she was a teenager. She talks about social media, Harry Potter, friends, boys, family, and I don't even remember the last book I read where the protagonist talked about fashion and had a specific brand they liked, but maybe that's just because I don't read a lot of contemporary. She's one of those characters who could actually be a real person.

The way the law is presented in this novel is really complicated. On the one hand, a policeman kills Khalil. On the other, Starr's Uncle Carlos is a policeman and he's one of the good guys. He helped raise Starr when she was little and her father was in prison. Starr makes this point herself during an interview and a news station is "outraged by her 'disregard for cops'". All she said was that some police officers were bad, and she said it in the politest way possible. They were just looking for a reason to discredit her. There's also the way it looks at criminals themselves, specifically why people become criminals: desperation, protection, power... It's notable that Starr has two father figures - Uncle Carlos and her father - and one is a policeman and the other has done time in prison. They're both good people. They're both good parents. Following the law, in this novel, is not a sign of a good person, but neither is breaking it. It all depends on the character in question, the reasons for their actions, and who they are outside of them. Everything is subjective.
"Banned Book Club is a monthly meme at This is Lit to encourage readers to read more challenged and banned books. We’ll pick a challenged book each month and read and review it by the end of the month.

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  1. I agree with about how Starr seems like a real character and how the author managed to designed her so well. This book is is powerful and I am so happy Angie Thomas published it. People need to know! Can't wait for the movie :)

    1. I think Starr made the book for me, really. She has such a great voice!