A story of un­speak­able hor­ror and haunt­ing truth

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Books - by Gemma McLaugh­lin

The Hate U Give Angie Thomas, Walker Books

I have cho­sen this week’s book for sev­eral rea­sons. Of course it came out in 2017, how­ever on a re­cent trip to the cin­ema I saw the trailer for an up­com­ing movie based on the story. I was in­trigued by its stun­ning re­views and the per­fect quote for this awein­spir­ing novel. “What’s the point of hav­ing a voice if you’re gonna be silent?”

When I started read­ing I was thrown into the life of Starr, a young girl liv­ing two lives, nei­ther of them com­pletely au­then­tic. She grew up in a poor neigh­bour­hood and went to school there un­til a hor­rific in­ci­dent when she was only a child forced her to change to a fancy school just out of town, filled with rich white chil­dren. Starr found her­self strug­gling to fit in any­where and the story starts at a party she’s not sup­posed to be at with her child­hood best friend Khalil.

With­out any warn­ing, only a lit­tle bit into the book, all-out chaos en­sues start­ing with the two gun­shots heard at the party. Starr and Khalil leave the party and end up driv­ing home lis­ten­ing to the song that gave the book its name. The two are pulled over by the po­lice and de­spite be­ing un­armed, Khalil is fa­tally shot. It was al­most im­pos­si­ble to read this scene; it needed to be writ­ten and there couldn’t have been a bet­ter per­son to write it than the in­cred­i­ble Angie Thomas. Read­ing that mo­ment felt like I was there. There’s the chaos, the flash­ing lights – and then, when it seems like the noise in your head is never go­ing to end, comes the sound of three gun­shots in your mind. Then si­lence. Hor­rific, heart­break­ing, mov­ing si­lence.

After Khalil’s death Starr is at first urged not to talk about it; if she gets in­volved things could be­come very dan­ger­ous for her. The whole neigh­bour­hood is talk­ing about what hap­pened to him and to be­gin with no-one knows what re­ally hap­pened, what Starr wit­nessed and what it’s do­ing to her. We are in­formed at all points pos­si­ble that Starr didn’t think she would be so quiet about such a sit­u­a­tion; she had pre­vi­ously thought that if she wit­nessed some­thing like that she would speak up. Now the op­por­tu­nity to tell the truth has arisen and the story be­comes laced with fear as Starr is faced with hun­dreds of im­pos­si­ble choices she shouldn’t have to make.

This book is in­de­scrib­ably im­por­tant and beau­ti­ful. Given the cur­rent state of the world, the haunt­ing truth ooz­ing from Angie Thomas’s ev­ery word is ex­actly what we need. If you do noth­ing else, pick up a copy of the book, and go see the up­com­ing movie.

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