Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.… What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. - from Goodreads
Angie Thomas’s New York Time best-selling debut novel is extremely timely and offers an incisive perspective of the life of a black teenage girl in the United State of America confronting issues of police brutality, justice, and activism.
Thomas’s novel derives its title from the rapper Tupac Shakur’s philosophy of THUG LIFE—which purportedly stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody”—and it’s a subject the novel returns to a few times. While some might dismiss the acronym tattooed across Tupac’s abdomen as an embrace of a dangerous lifestyle, Khalil explains to Starr, minutes before the cop pulls them over, that it is really a condemnation of society’s systemic inequality and hostility: “What society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out.”
While the book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, at its heart, it is first and foremost about a scared young girl and the ripple affects the murder of her friend causes on her relationship with her family, community, the complicated friendships with white teenagers at her school and her white boyfriend. Avoiding potential clichés or stereotypes Thomas is successful in creating something that is nuanced, difficult, relevant and yet also relatable and simple, causing the story to resonate even more poignantly with the reader. I would highly recommend Thomas’s novel to any age group despite its young-adult designation not only for being a timely, well- crafted, moving story but also for the social significance it holds in revealing a very real and very urgent struggle.