Starr Carter lives in two worlds – one which centres around the mainly white, upper class school of Williamson Prep and the comparative ‘ghetto’ that is her home town of Garden Heights. While maintaining a delicate balance between the two, never really in both simultaneously, she feels she never truly belongs in either.
The divide was triggered when Starr’s parents sent their children to Williamson to get away from the violence and crime that permeates every alleyway of The Garden. Yet apart from cleaving Starr’s social life, it does nothing to remove her from violence. While returning from a party, Starr’s childhood friend is shot by a policeman; he was sixteen and unarmed.
In the aftermath of the devastating loss, Starr tries to come to terms with her place in both her worlds, and wonders how the two can peacefully meet. Public opinion about the incident is divided, in an eerie display of the darkness that can reside in any heart or the light that can eliminate it. At the risk of peace and safety, Starr realizes that her friend was not the only voice silenced, the only life robbed of its future, and that she must speak up for those who cannot. In making herself heard, Starr becomes brave, and takes action. She is neither fearless nor experienced in speaking out, but she has determination and a group of friends and family who urge her on. Starr becomes a hero.
The Hate U Give is beyond compliments – there are no praises I could shower upon it that could explain its worthiness as a great literary work of our time; no single thing I thought to pen seemed to do the work justice. It is more than a necessary read – it is vital. The work is incredibly moving, heartbreaking and illuminating, and an all-out masterpiece. Angie Thomas does an incredible job of giving voice to an oft-misunderstood and misrepresented movement, and raises the voice of many through one – an enormous feat and an excellent read. It is not enough to simply want to read this book; you need to read it. Please.
The Hate U Give by Angle Thomas is published by Walker Books, and is available in South Africa from Pan Macmillan South Africa.