“A Hairbrush is not Gun” – Angie Thomas in The Hate U Give
I decided to read this book because of it’s strong theme and being the winner of the Goodreads 2017 Readers Award for Best Debut Novel and Best Young Adult Novel the reviews have really been great.
The story is narrated by it’s main character, Star Carter. She is a sixteen year old black teenager who lives in Garden Heights, a predominantly black neighborhood with her parents. Her world comes crashing down when she witnesses her best friend Khalil shot at close range by a police officer. Unfortunately for Star, this is not the first time she is a witness the death of a friend but this time she wants her voice to be heard even though she has been traumatised by both events. Inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement, this is a deeply moving story about racism and the broken criminal justice system in America. This is a story I believe had to be told and I would never forget it.
Reading this book brings to perspective the current issues plaguing the black community in America. It is a genuine and insightful account of what goes on in most black communities such as poverty, street gangs, hard drugs and the lawful or unlawful prison bound fathers and sons. As someone who comes from a minority tribe in my country, I understand what is means to be sidelined and discriminated upon. Racism, tribalism, these are just different names wearing the same face and are never acceptable. It is almost as if the system is set up for certain people to fail even before they try and that is why most of the people affected by this are found to be highly religious as they believe their only hope can come from God. I hope this narrative will spur our young people to keep speaking up against these ills and pave a way for a fairer, better world.
Despite the strong theme, I struggled with this book a bit. I feel it dwelt too much on Star’s teenage thoughts on her personal life (which sometimes were relevant to the story) and issues with her friendships. I understand this is a YA book so I guess I am not within the sphere of it’s target audience but with such a strong theme, my expectation was that the author would take into cognizance that everyone (old and young) would read this book and tone down on some of the “teen stuff”. This made some parts rather boring to read but of course I had to know how the story would end so I braved through it.
Overall, it was a really good book with a strong and relevant theme. It is therefore a must read and I recommend it to everyone especially Young adults.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Published: February 27th, 2017 by Balzer +Bray
Genre: Young Adult
Purchase @ www.amazon.com/thehateugive
The Author: Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.