A story of unspeakable horror and haunting truth
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.