WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have not read or watched “The Hate U Give,” the following article may contain passages considered to be spoilers. Proceed with caution!
Angie Thomas’s debut novel, “The Hate U Give,” portrays a realistic fiction on the “Black Lives Matter” movement. For those of you who may be unaware, “Black Lives Matter” is best described as a movement against the relentless and unforgiving injustice and racism faced by Black people on a daily basis. “The Hate U Give” is about a 16 year-old girl named Starr, who witnesses her best friend’s murder due to police brutality.
This tale is one about finding your voice and becoming one with your identity. Before the tragic murder of Starr’s best friend, she is shown to struggle with finding a balance between her Black identity as it was perceived at her fancy prep school, versus in her own neighborhood. The story of “The Hate U Give” follows Starr as she navigates these heavy ideologies whilst exploring the impact social media has on the murder she witnessed because of what is trending online. Ultimately, this novel is about social injustice and standing up for what you believe in.
One quote in the book that really resonated with me was this one: “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” This is the moment Starr realizes that she should have spoken out for her friend, Khalil, and that she has been beating herself up for something that wasn’t in her control. When she initially saw what happened, she was frozen – in shock that something so horrific happened to a close friend of hers again.
“Once upon a time, there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug. He lived, but not nearly long enough, and for the rest of my life I’ll remember how he died. Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.” tweet
Eventually when Starr does find her voice, she speaks out about what happened to her and Khalil that night: “Once upon a time, there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug. He lived, but not nearly long enough, and for the rest of my life I’ll remember how he died. Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.”
To me, this novel highlights the significance of Black Lives Matter with a fictional flair that I haven’t read anywhere else. The way Starr handled her grief was raw, fresh, and incredibly relatable, something I haven’t seen many books depict accurately. I believe this book is worth buying because of how honest it is, and everyone should read it.
Many of you may be aware that the book was eventually turned into a movie. To preserve the authenticity of Angie Thomas’ literary genius, this endeavor was taken seriously to ensure that no part of this wonderful story gave way to the erasure of Black excellence. I bring this up because early on in the shooting of this move, cast member Kian Lawley was found to have made racist comments in a controversial video that resurfaced on the internet. Once this fact became known, he publicly apologized for it on Twitter, but he was replaced by K.J. Apa. As a story, “The Hate U Give” highlights white privilege and the hardships that minorities face, particularly African-Americans. The firing of an individual who thought it was sensible to use racist terminology goes to show that the creatives responsible for adapting this heartening story into film left no room for anything that might negatively impact the integrity of the content. That is exactly as it should be.
“The Hate U Give” is one very gut-wrenching novel and movie. I honestly think anyone who is 15 and older should read or watch it, especially in honor of Black History Month. The characters are very dynamic, and their struggles are worthy of being explored. Additionally, the depiction of the Black Lives Matter movement in this novel is a wonderful introduction for those who may not be familiar with it, and given how relevant the topic is, it’s about time we get intimately familiar with it.