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A Review: The Hate u Give by Angie Thomas

By Hippiebookworm @HippieBookworm

A Review: The Hate u Give by Angie ThomasAmazon and Audible have been after me for months to read the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It was top of my recommended reads list every time I logged in and I would scroll past it to select something else. I did not think I would want to read this book.

There were a couple of reasons for this. The first is that for the past 6 months I’ve been on this binge for all things fiction related to adoption. I’m in the process of adopting now and I was looking for inspiration, warm fuzzies and something to give me a sense of peace about my choice to start my family in this way.

But the second reason I didn’t want to read this book is a little more difficult to explain. I’m a lower-middle class, white woman with a brother in the Sheriff’s department. I was afraid I would be reading something that is anti-police, preachy and would make me feel like a loser or less than because of my demographic make up.

So what did I find? Yes, it’s a #BlackLivesMatter-inspired story. Angie Thomas herself said the original idea for the story was inspired by the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant and that later, she decided to expand it into a novel after the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Sandra Bland increased the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Yes, some of the police officers in the book made me want to close the book and put it down. And yes, there were pages and conversations between characters that were dedicated to pointing out differences between growing up white and growing up black and made me squirm a little.

But I also found something else – perspective. This book was able to open my eyes to something that I knew I was missing and could not find on my own.

I do not know what it is like to be inherently afraid of the police. To be taught to fear the police by my elders. When I was afraid of the police it was because I was doing something that would make anyone afraid to draw their attention. But I never thought they would treat me as less than human.

I do not know what it’s like to grow up in a neighbor that is ruled by gang violence. I grew up outside the big city in an area where metro parks and farm fields separate neighbors. I wasn’t naive to gang violence and my middle school and high school experienced their share of issues. But I could easily stay away from all that activity if I chose.

And I do not know what it’s like to grow up in society that is so polarized all the time. I was born in 1981, so I came of age in the 1990’s in Columbus, Ohio. The biggest ongoing contention I can remember in my life is people who were OSU Buckeye fans and those who were Michigan Wolverine fans – never do we mix. There were moments where we were divided with the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, the Monica Lewinski Scandal and the OJ Simpson trial. But after each event subsided, so would the tension.

This being said, could I find any common ground with the protagonist in the book? Yes, I could.

I know what it’s like to feel “other.” To feel like you have to hide part of yourself away to become more acceptable to the people around you. When I was 21 years old I went to Costa Rica for a semester. My schooling took place at a Missionary School that was associated with my Christian college.

The family I lived with was very religious as were all the people I was associating with at my school. But I was 21 years old, questioning my faith after a failed relationship with a pastor and all I wanted to do was drink, smoke and party. I felt like a fish out of water.

So, I joined a church, volunteered in my new community and prayed before every meal. And every weekend I got the chance, I would gather a few friends and head to La Playa Jaco to drink in the clubs, smoke with the locals and party with the University students.

I have experience with gang violence. While I was living in San Jose the gang violence escalated. Americans were targeted to be robbed by young boys pledging in. I walked around with extra cash on me just for those occasions. And then one night some gang members attempted to steel my friend’s truck with his little girl inside. My friend was forced to shoot one of the gang members and then we watched as the others got into another car and ran over their wounded friend killing him. It was one of the first times I saw people treating others as disposable or as just another casualty in a life that sees too many.

I have lost people ahead of their time for what seems like senseless reasons. Suicide, overdose, reckless driving, cancer and disease – they all had a lifetime ahead of them before it happened. In some instances, we knew it was inevitable but in other instances the death was sudden and jarring.

What did I think of the book?

I loved the book. The storytelling is amazing, the conflict is relatable and current and Angie put a lot of her own truth into the novel which I appreciated. I highly recommend this read to anyone over the age of 12 years old and especially to those young women out there who feel is if they have to become someone else to be accepted by their peers.

Would I see the movie?

A Review: The Hate u Give by Angie ThomasI’m still debating. Part of me wants to see how they handled the delicate issues of race, gang violence and cultural polarization. Part of me is afraid they may have clumsily muddled through with an unapologetic one-sided viewpoint. I have loved Russell Hornsby since I discovered him on Grimm and he played an amazing character opposite Regina King in Netflix’s Seven Seconds. I might see the movie just because I want to see how he tackles the role of Star’s father – a ex-con, ex-gang member who keeps his family in the old neighborhood on principle to show you don’t have to subscribe to “the life” to be a successful citizen.

Interested in learning more about the films and books mentioned in this book? Click below to get your own copy.

What were your thoughts? Have you read the book or seen the movie? Let me know if the comments below.


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