The Hate U Give

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I knew when I first heard about this book that it was going to become one of my favorites of the decade. Angie Thomas, a debut novelist, has written an incredibly poignant tale about a sixteen year old, Starr Carter, as she balances living in a poor neighborhood and attending a suburban prep school. Everything hits a head when Starr witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. The shooting becomes a national headline twisted with rumors that he was an alleged drug dealer and gangbanger. The story follows Starr as she navigates this emotional minefield and finds her voice to speak out.

Thomas takes a timely and heavy-handed topic but writes the story with caution, humor, and remarkable characters that you become deeply invested in from the very beginning. I found myself relating to Starr’s character far more than expected. They describe at length her unconscious habit of “code-switching” or behaving in a certain way in her neighborhood and another way while at her school. Having personally grown up in a suburban neighborhood, as one of the few black girls in the school, I understood her desire to avoid the “angry black girl” or “ghetto black girl” labels. It impacts your friendships, demeanor, and all interactions in that community.

One of the greatest strengths of THE HATE U GIVE, apart from the hysterical Harry Potter references, were the parallels.  The parallels are what made the entire piece realistic and dynamic. Chris and Hailey each represent the various reactions that the Caucasian community can have toward the issue of police brutality in the African American community. Each had significant connections to Starr, yet each handles the news of Khalil’s death differently. While one is able to set aside their privilege to earnestly gain insight into the feeling of outrage, the other merely behaves as if it is a minor inconvenience. Another parallel exists between the police officer responsible for shooting Khalil to Starr’s Uncle Carlos. Both have sworn the oath of a police officer/detective to protect and serve their communities, but approach that task in different ways. This parallel is also essential to removing any complete bias of “F*** the Police” because you cannot blame one community for the mistakes of the few. The last two parallels were between the prosecutors who question Starr and her attorney, Ms. Ofrah. Each has a duty to find the truth and seek out justice, but they both take different approaches to that as well based on their motivations. The last parallel is between the riots and peaceful protest. The riots are reminiscent to the Black Panther Organization and Malcolm X’s beliefs versus the peaceful protest which is reflective of Martin Luther King Jr’s belief. Each form of rebellion comes from deeply emotional places of hurt, but it’s important to acknowledge the consequences that riots can have.

There are so many valuable lessons that can be taken away from reading THE HATE U GIVE which is why it is now one of my favorite novels. An important lesson I needed to learn was the importance of not staying silent in situations where you should speak up. Personally, there have been times when a lump forms around my throat when it’s my responsibility to speak out as an African American/ Haitian American woman. For example, I’m surrounded by white people and a song that has the n-word comes on. It can be uncomfortable and awkward but at the end of the day — it’s my responsibility to stand up and tell those who are saying it that it’s wrong. By remaining silent, I am joining the side of the oppressor and allowing them to believe that this behavior is acceptable when it’s not. Bravery does not mean that you are never afraid, but that you do what should be done regardless of that fear.

Now that I’m so invested in this novel, my only fear now is for the film development. Thomas has repeatedly explained that she has had no involvement in the casting process, but part of me is concerned that the truth of the novel will not reflect as strongly. For example, I am a fan of the young African American actress, Amandla Stenberg, but she was not who I envisioned in the role of Starr. She has already played the role of Rue (“Hunger Games”), Maddy (“Everything, Everything”), and is even projected to portray Ruby in The Darkest Minds series. I worry that we won’t get the performance we deserve since this will be merely another role on a long list of films. I could be wrong, we will just have to wait and see when the film comes out.

 

What were your thoughts about THE HATE U GIVE? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you looking forward to June for her second novel, ON THE COME UP? I know I am.

Six of Crows: A Review

For those of you who have kept up with my blog, you know that I cannot resist a good young adult fantasy novel. Yes, I read other genres but the books I remember loving the most were young adult fantasy novels. After hearing all of the hype, I decided to purchase the duology of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo does an unbelievable job of creating a dynamic universe that is overflowing with colorfully unforgettable characters.

The minute we are introduced to Kaz Brekker, I already know he will quickly become the bad-ass character that you can’t help but love. He is the Danny Ocean to a similarly assembled band of thieves. Each of the six members of the team have a particular skill set, along with a complicated background story to explain how they found themselves here. Despite different back stories, they all found themselves agreeing to embark on an impossible heist with the highest stakes and potential for highest reward. Bardugo separates chapters by each character’s perspectives. These chapters help you gain a deeper understanding of each person’s past but also provides insight into what their motivations are during this journey. Apart from the story itself, which captivates the reader from the first page to the last, Bardugo supplies fluid prose without stutter. Her strong writing, in combination with the incredible plot, are what make Six of Crows a five-star must-read. 

I’m unsure if I want to jump directly into Crooked Kingdom (the second novel in the series) or take a break to read some other titles on my TBR. I’ll keep you guys posted.

XO

Currently reading…

I am so excited to announce that I have just started reading the famous Leigh Bardugo duology, Six of Crows! I know I’m super late on the whole bandwagon thing but — a good book is a good book whenever you choose to read it, at least in my opinion.

Life has been hectic so I haven’t been reading or writing as much as I used to. I want to change that and make an active effort to read and write more regularly. They always go hand in hand for me, if I’m not writing often it’s usually because I’m not reading as much as I should. I don’t want to make excuses but instead, challenge myself to take free moments to read. Y’all know how much I love a good YA fantasy so no better way to dive back in than with the famed Six of Crows duology. I’ve only heard good things and I’m excited to read it for myself.

My TBR is overflowing but if you have any suggestions for books to read. Comment below! I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and why you liked it.

Everything Everything

Nicola Yoon has been on my list of authors that I was looking forward to reading. I wasn’t quite sure whether to start with The Sun is Also A Star but once I saw the film trailer for Everything Everything, I knew that would be the first book of hers that I would have to read.

Yoon is an exceptionally talented writer and demonstrates her skills in character development, plot and descriptions in this novel. She is patient with the descriptions and really makes the main character, Madeline’s youthful and child-like fascination with the world believable. In the Q&A portion of the book, Yoon even says that the innocence of Madeline was largely inspired by her own infant daughter’s reactions to the world around her.

In all honesty, I hadn’t anticipated enjoying Everything Everything as much as I had. It was a new and fresh story that has never been told before. I think that there are themes like love and protection that are carried on throughout that really grip at the readers heartstrings and get them invested in the turn of events. I also respect Yoon for making the main female character multiracial. It’s not her identity but it is something that is made clear about her. I think that it’s incredible to have more culturally diverse characters in books, television and film because it really helps to inspire diverse readers and encourage diversity in the world. It helps remind audiences that fundamentally being different is nothing to be ashamed of.

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I would recommend this book to YA readers, fans of John Green, fans of film to book comparisons, or anyone looking for an entertaining but light read.

#SneakpeekSunday

I’m not saying I have a problem or anything but my TBR pile has been growing steadily since I graduated from the Columbia Publishing Course last year. 

Here’s a sneak peek of some of my hauls this past year since then…..#DontJudgeMe 


Talking As Fast As I Can

I don’t think there is any better book that I could have followed Born a Crime with than an equally as stunning and refreshing memoir by Lauren Graham– actress, writer, producer and all around effortless talent. Talking as Fast as I Can was witty, quirky and full of laughs. I often find it difficult separating the person: Lauren Graham from her roles as Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman, two of my favorite television characters. I had to stop myself, at times, and remember she is not the roles she has played, they have impacted her to some extent but she continues where their stories end.

It was truly interesting to learn more about Lauren Graham. I never knew about her struggle to stardom. Apart from learning that she was in a relationship with her former cast brother, Peter Krause (Adam Braverman), I didn’t know much about her. I think my favorite part of the story was the firsthand details that Graham recounted from previous seasons of Gilmore Girl. She also included her personal journal entries during Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I think knowing how close of a relationship she built with her co-stars and crewmembers, returning for the final season was extremely emotional. It was incredible hearing about old memories and everyone being taken back into the nostalgia of the show the same way that audience members felt when they sat down to watch the long anticipated, A Year in the Life.

I remember growing up with Gilmore Girls and watching it constantly. At one point, when I realized that the last episode had aired, I refused to finish out the last season. I decided to wait until the inevitable tv movie aired to finally watch it all…only to learn that those months would turn to years. I binge-watched all the seasons on Netflix before the new season came on and had absolutely no regrets about it. The show honestly changed my life and made me aspire to have the Lorelai-Rory relationship with my future daughter. Their bond was unbreakable no matter what hiccups came along the way. I also agree 1000% with Lauren Graham about the final four words of the show being a cliffhanger! Is there going to be a Gilmore Girls Reloaded?! Or was this just a reminder that even if the show ends the Gilmore Girls live on in Stars Hollow!? Inquiring minds want to know.