“The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen—people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right.
Maybe this can be it.”
And to think, I almost didn’t read this book.
I kept seeing this book around Goodreads and here on WordPress. Everyone was talking about it and honestly, I was avoiding this book like the plague. Why? Because I don’t really like books like these, and before you get mad, let me explain.
These are the kind of books in which the author thinks they are doing something great (which in their minds they are) and end up making a crap story to push on some sort of agenda onto people. And 90% of the time, those books suck. And no, I’m not a terrible person for saying that, it’s the truth. A lot of those books are one-sided, offensive, doing nothing more than perpetuating the problem or continuing stereotypes and are honestly just plain bad.
This book managed to do something great. It shone it’s light on a relevant issue in society, pointing out the flaws in the system and the people within it. On top of that, it also managed to surprisingly be a very good book.
“Pac said Thug Life stood for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody’.”
This book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. And before anyone starts complaining about the whole ‘all live matter’ crap, let me explain what Black Lives Matter means. I have heard a couple of people saying they won’t read this books for that reasons. Let me state this: all lives do, in fact, matter! But, no one needs to be reminded of white lives and their importance. It’s the lives of minorities that tend to slip through the cracks. It’s their lives that we sometimes forget are equally important.
That’s what this book is about. It’s about a young African American teenager, Khalil, who gets shot in the back, three times, mind you, because the cop thought he was a threat. All of this despite the fact that he was unarmed, compliant, and passive. Despite the fact that he posed no real threat and wasn’t even looking at the cop when it happened. This book is about Starr, the girl who witnesses her oldest friend get murdered in front of her, for no real reason. Starr, who gets a gun pointed at her face while she runs to her dying friend, despite being unarmed. This is a book about how people are stereotyped and how society favors some people over others. About how we don’t live in the equal world we fool ourselves into believing we live.
No, this is not a book about hating cops. This is not a book that throws the blame on the police for these things. It points the blame on the terrible system that holds this unfair world together. This is not a book trying to throw guilt on to white people for being white. In this book. the bad guys come in all colors. This is a book trying to point out the privilege that some are appointed solely for the color of their skin.
Aside from all those lessons, this is a good story. It has heart and family and friendship. These are the things that make the story as good as it is, the fact that it’s an actual story and just a message being shoved down our throats.
I love all of the characters in this book, how each one shone and became a real person, more than just background figures. Starr has a loving, yet complicated family, each one with a unique personality. She has friends that are neither good nor bad, and the cutest, nicest white boyfriend that you could imagine. (And I’m only pointing out his race because it’s important in the book) What Thomas does with all of these characters is amazing, giving each one depth and not letting any of them become stereotypes or clichés of what they represent.
This is a great book with a powerful message, that despite the seriousness of all that is happening, still has moments that make you laugh and smile and feel warm all over.
They have moments like this:
Momma reaches her fork onto my plate and breaks off a piece of pancake. “What is Tumblr anyway? Is it like Facebook?”
“No, and you’re forbidden to get one. No parents allowed. You guys already took over Facebook.”
“You haven’t responded to my friend request yet.”
“I need Candy Crush lives.”
“That’s why I’ll never respond.
Then there are lines like these:
“He got a tan over break. I used to tell him he was so pale he looked like a marshmallow. He hated that I compared him to food. I told him that’s what he got for calling me caramel. It shut him up.”
Am I the only one that thinks that gets annoyed when people of color are described using food? Chocolate, caramel, coffee, mocha etc, those aren’t cute. My skin is not a food! And yet it would be weird if someone said, “ohh, look at that vanilla skin”.
It’s probably because vanilla skin sounds hella bland. Go HERE for something both terrible and funny on this topic.
In the end, I am super glad that I read this book. I should have read it sooner, and probably would have if I hadn’t been acting stupid. Also, this is the third book this year that I give such a high rating to, so there is also that!
Anyway, I highly recommend this book, I promise that it won’t disappoint!
Check out our 2017 Reading Challenge