Tupac. THUG LIFE. ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants F*&#@ Everyone.’
So this probably is the best book I’ve read (heard) this year! Narrated by Bahni Turpin, this audiobook has kept me on the edge of my seat on my daily commute and made me cry a few number of times. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this book is important, necessary, fearless, and, quite simply, stunning.
Narrator Bahni Turpin manages to give voice to such a broad and rich cast of characters, each with their own authentic perspective, demonstrating the power of performance to bring new depth to a complex social issue.
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.
“I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.”
I loved how this book portrays Star – a member of an elite (and mostly white school) while her roots are in the hood. There are two Stars, one who talks slang and the other who answers politely and “fits in” at school. She has a white boyfriend and while race is not an issue for her, it becomes one.
I loved how this book explores issues as interracial hate (from multiple perspectives – the cops, the outraged black neighbourhood, the gangs around the area, the people who tweet and send their thoughts and prayers and from people who rally because their voice can’t or won’t be heard)
And in the middle, there’s Star, who only wants a murder to be treated as such and not be dismissed as a “right” approach to deal with “dangerous gang members”. It tackles stereotypes (both white and black) and it’s humourous and sad and a better slice of life than any sitcom. The movie was really good as well, but the book was better.
“I swear, I don’t understand white people.
Breadcrumbs on macaroni, kissing dogs on the mouth—”
“Treating their dogs like they’re their kids,” I add.
“Yeah!” says DeVante. “Purposely doing shit that could kill them, like bungee jumping.”
“Calling Target ‘Tar-jay,’ like that makes it fancier,” says Seven.
“F*ck,” Chris mutters. “That’s what my mom calls it.”
Seven and I bust out laughing.
“Saying dumb shit to their parents,” DeVante continues. “Splitting up in situations when they clearly need to stick together.”
The reality of this book is that it takes tremendous courage to stand for who you are and what you believe when there is so much pressure around you to go with the flow. I thought Angie Thomas did a brilliant job of highlighting the day to day courage required by all of us in embracing race, society, and local community to create a peaceful world. Love needs to connect with the color of our blood regardless of the color of our skin
‘‘A hairbrush is not a gun.’’