The Hate U Give

This is going to be a book review, but also mostly kind of a self-evaluation at the same time? Either way, please read 😉

(Spoiler-Free!)

As someone who frequents the Barnes and Nobles website way too much, I know I’d seen The Hate U Give all over the place as a recommended book, as a best seller book, a new release – etc. I never read it though, because I only pay attention to YA fantasy books – I never even bothered to read the summary of what the book was about. However, I was on Instagram a few weeks ago and I saw a lot of people talking about the movie that was coming out (yes, this book is being made into a movie and you should see it) and so I though I’d watch the trailer. After watching, I decided I needed to read this book. The Hate U Give is about a Black high schooler, Starr, who sees her unarmed Black friend, Khalil, shot and murdered by a cop. Most of the book is spent with her trying to deal with his death and the aftermath of his murder, and deciding what she wants to do and how to use her voice. There’s a lot of the story that I’d love to talk about, but I’d also love it more if you’re all able to read it for yourselves without me spoiling it. (But once you’ve read this I’d love to talk more)

Reading The Hate U Give is hard – really hard. Personally, I’ve always connected strongly to people and ideas through reading. I have seen many of the videos, read the articles, and had conversations about police brutality and police shootings. However, connecting on such a personal level to Starr’s story was different for me. Her story might not be one that’s happened in real life necessarily, but that doesn’t mean Starr doesn’t tell a true story about police brutality in America.

This past year at Macalester, I’ve been challenged more and more to think about my white privilege and what responsibilities I have in society as white woman. This was never really something I thought about in high school very much. It wasn’t really something I was encouraged to think about much either. I guess I just stuck with an understanding that racism is still around, I have it better because I’m white…and that was about it. I’m not saying that I didn’t fail on my own some – it’s not like I didn’t have access to the internet, or to a library. There is most certainly more I could have done in high school to educate myself more. However, after reading this I did think that maybe my high school let me down a little, too. And probably lots of high schools in America. Almost every high school English class reads To Kill a Mockingbird – and don’t get me wrong – it’s a good book and reading classic novels are important, too. TKAM does deal with race in America, and it’s definitely worth reading. But….it also represents the race issues in America of almost 100 years ago. Needless to say although we still have many issues with race in America, they’re not the same anymore. Reading The Hate U Give made me wish that when we read classic novels we also paid more attention to the ones being written in today’s world. How is our education complete when we read a classic novel on race in America that takes place a hundred years ago, but don’t take the time to discuss what it’s like now? Being at Macalester was almost a culture shock for me. Many of the people I was surrounded by at Mac were so self-aware, and educated about privilege and racism and I realized I had a lot of catching up to do. Talking about your privilege, realizing you have it, and then realizing all over again how pervasive and extensive your privilege is in society is definitely a process, one I’m just starting, and also one that never really ends. Put simply – it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes I’ve wished I could just ignore all of these problems in our country and live my life – but then I’ve also realized that’s it’s because I am white that I could ignore these problems and just life my life – and that’s a privilege people who aren’t white and well-off don’t have. Which also means that even when it would be easier for me to just ignore these problems, and the things that make me uncomfortable sometimes, it’s my responsibility (and the right thing to do) to make sure I don’t.  I know I’m gonna make mistakes, and I’m probably going to get called out on them, too. But reading The Hate U Give reminded me of why I’m so glad I chose Macalester, and why it’s worth feeling uncomfortable and getting called out on things. I’m a better person already for it, and will continue to work hard to be a better, more educated and more aware white woman in America.

Beyond all of that, The Hate U Give was just such an amazing book. It made me cry (a lot) but it also made me laugh. Angie Thomas (I would like to add this is her debut novel) writes a fantastic novel and brings up so many important ideas and issues I can’t even list them all. There’s so much I want to say, and could say about this book – but I just don’t feel like I can even do it justice. SO JUST READ IT! That’s all I can really say. Just. Read. This. Book. I don’t care if you’re thirteen or eighty-three – this is a book everyone should read. Khalil Mattered. Black voices and lives matter – and it matters that you read The Hate U Give.

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