The Hate U Give by Angie C. Thomas is all of these things.
Starr is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She likes playing basketball with her brother, Seven, hanging out with her friends and her boyfriend, Chris. But Starr lives two lives; she lives in the Garden Heights hood and helps her Dad in his store there, but she goes to a fancy private high school 45-minutes away.
Starr is at a Garden Heights party with her friend Kenya but feels awkward because she doesn’t know anyone else until she runs into her old friend, Khalil. Shots are fired and Khalil gets Starr out of there safely and offers her a ride home. They are pulled over by a cop. Khalil complies with the officer’s instructions but asks why they were pulled over. The cop takes this as non-compliance and pulls Khalil out of the car and pats him down, finding nothing. He’s walking back to his cruiser to run Khali’s license number, when Khalil opens the car door to check on Starr. The cop shoots Khalil in the back. Khalil dies in Starr’s arms.
At first Starr doesn’t want the media to know that she was the witness, because it could put her and her family at risk. At school Starr tries to pretend that nothing has happened, but flashbacks of that night make it difficult for her to pretend. She struggles with survivor’s guilt and wants to share with the public the Khalil she knew, not the wannabe drug dealer the media has painted him. When the fact that Khalil was unarmed hits the news, protests take place all over Garden Heights, calling for the cop’s indictment.
When Starr decides that she wants to come forward, her parents hire a lawyer to help her as she testifies in front of a Grand Jury about what took place that night, which include that the cop held his weapon on Starr until other police arrived to the scene. Weeks pass as Garden Heights and the nation wait with bated breath for a verdict. When Starr’s friends at school find out what’s been going on with her she learns that some friends are truer than others. Starr must decide whether she’ll continue living two separate lives of whether she will let them come together so that she can just be herself, wherever she is.
The Hate U Give is important for adults and teens to read right now and this fascinating debut novel will grab you from page one. Starr’s journey from teen to activist may not relate to everyone but her voice and feelings are so down to earth that you immediately empathize with her. Filming for the movie has just finished and it will be out sometime in 2018. Angie Thomas is currently working on her second novel but no details have been released about the plot.