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.

The Return

Hello followers! I am back and it is long overdue! In August, I disappeared to commune with nature at camp with Writopia Lab. It was an incredible opportunity where I got to serve as a counselor. I got to mentor and witness these talented kids write poetry, perform spoken word, write music, play instruments, and create more art than I have ever seen done by children as early as 8 years old. It was life-changing and inspired me in more ways than I can begin to express. These kids reminded me that writing can be scary but your best work comes from being uninhibited.

While in the Poconos area without any cell service, most of my time was spent reading or writing. I explored writing some poetry that I may or may not post on the blog soon. I also got to reflect on some of my favorite books. One book series that I fell in love with in high school was Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. If you haven’t read it, I can’t begin to recommend it enough. Mead creates three dimensional characters that capture your heart. I completed the series sometime in my senior year of high school or freshmen year of college (2011-2012).

During my time in college, I learned that a spin-off titled, the Bloodlines series was underway. Mead’s new series was set to continue a storyline of a briefly introduced human character, the Alchemist Sydney Sage. It was exciting to learn that not only was it not the end of my favorite characters but that it would be told through the eyes of a human aware of the vampire world. I immediately jumped into the first book of the series, Bloodlines. It caught my attention but as college grew more hectic, I never made it to the fourth book out of the six-book series.

Now, that I’m older, I feel inspired to finally complete the series. I’ve always been curious about how events turned out for my favorite characters. Mead’s books are a major reason I love young adult novels. Revisiting the spin-off series will be interesting just to see whether I’m still crazy about these same characters or if the tropes don’t carry as much weight for me as they used to. Well, time will tell and I’ll keep you posted on my opinions of the books as I go along. I may take a break and read some standalone books too just to keep some content on the blog.
Thanks for your patience, guys, and feel free to recommend any books that you would like me to review: poetry, non-fiction, YA, all of the above except horror honestly.