‘The Hate U Give’ reemphasizes the abnormality of gun violence

Katie Wheeler, Staff Writer

The 444 pages of Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give” go by faster than a bullet.

The novel centers around Starr Carter, a black teenager who, on top of an average high school student’s drama, comes face-to-face with gun violence, gang activity, and racism every day.

By the age of 16, Starr has already witnessed two extreme instances of gun violence.

Her best friend Natasha is just 10 years old when she is shot and killed in a drive-by. Her other friends, Khalil, dies at 16 as a result of police brutality and, as the sole witness, Starr must defend the legacy of her misunderstood companion.

In this day and age, it is not uncommon for people of color to be killed by cops, or people, in general, to die from mass shootings. Because this has become a normality, these topics are usually glossed over as just “another shooting,” and “The Hate U Give” is transparent about this reality. The cold, hard truth may come as a shock at first, but as the story progresses, the readers’ desire to educate others on these issues will only grow.

The author, Angie Thomas, chose to write “The Hate U Give” in first person to help the reader empathize with the protagonist. Starr’s first-hand account of the events in the novel makes them feel real and intense like the reader is right there with her. Likewise, because Starr not only struggles with racial injustices, but also everyday problems like fitting in and high school drama, the book any teen can relate regardless of their age, gender, or race.

Despite the seriousness of the violence in the book, “The Hate U Give” also features scenes that lighten the mood and allow the reader to laugh. In one scene, Starr sits on the bleachers during P.E. with a friend. Together, they laugh at the girls who are pretending to be bad at basketball as a way of flirting with the guys. Thomas’ strategy of balancing lighthearted scenes with heavy ones ensures that the reader doesn’t put the book down. 

Many adults may see similarities between “The Hate U Give” and “Boyz n the Hood.” Much like the movie’s main character, Trey Styles, Starr Carter experiences what living in the ghetto is really like. Drugs and violence are a common occurrence in each and both characters witness the deaths of close friends at a young age. 

Amandla Stenberg starred in the film adaptation of “The Hate U Give.” She said in an interview with NPR that it felt like reading and reenacting her own diary. It is also likely that Thomas based certain scenes in the book off of her own experiences. So, although the actual story is fiction, the events within are comparable to real life. 

If you’re looking for a new book to read that is not only a page-turner, but discusses the contentious topics that many other authors are too scared to mention, then “The Hate U Give” is the best option for you. After all, it is a five-STARR read.