The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas // Review

I feel like I’ve been anticipating The Hate U Give‘s release for SO LONG, friends. I don’t remember how exactly I first heard of it, but y’all know I live almost exclusively in the world of YA fiction, so this has obviously been on my list from the moment I heard about it. In short, this book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, following 16 year old Starr and the aftermath of her being a witness to her friend being murdered by a white police officer. It’s obviously poignant, and it’s incredibly well done. I wanted to start writing a review the second I finished the book, but I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to process all of my feelings in order to write something that does the book justice. Here’s hoping!

It’s no secret that I am extremely passionate about civil rights and activism, but because I’m white, there are so many things I feel like I do not have the authority to speak on, especially related to injustices for people of color. I’ve had so many privileges in my life that have sheltered me from the realities of the communities that Angie Thomas depicts in her novel. So I knew that it was important for me to read this book in order to explore important perspectives and learn more about those who don’t have the same privileges I do. I won’t say this book gave me a better understanding of the issues surrounding race and police brutality, simply because I don’t believe I can ever truly understand something I’ve never experienced. But I want to do what I can to amplify the voices who are being affected in order to get these stories heard and hopefully create more space for change.

Quite honestly, this book could be the basis of an entire dissertation. So instead of getting into super gritty details (which I would love to do, but unfortunately, ya girl doesn’t have the time), I’ve decided to focus on one of the most moving moments in the book for me. When I read something moving, I’m often inclined to pick up a pen, underline, and let the author’s words truly sink in. In this particular case, the moment hit me like a ton of bricks.

One of the main conflicts in this novel is Starr’s uncertainty about speaking out and uncovering herself as the main witness to her friend Khalil’s murder. She goes back and forth about what her responsibilities are not only as a witness, but as a member of the black community – more specifically, in a community most commonly know for drug dealers and gangs – and as a friend of someone who was killed. It’s obviously not an easy decision for a 16 year old to make, especially considering the intricate details of her life. For example, Starr’s parents send her to a predominantly white private school, causing Starr to deliver some serious Jerrica Benton/Jem realness with two different personalities. Starr keeps up appearances at school that are different than who she is at home because, just like any other teenager, she wants to have friends and a boyfriend and make it through high school with as few hiccups as possible. So on top of all of these intricacies of her double life, Starr is then confronted with a difficult decision: does she hide herself from the details of Khalil’s case in order to try continuing to live a semi-normal life that is safe, or does she have an obligation to speak out? That’s what leads to the conversation that I feel is the very root of the novel…which happens to be the title itself. PS. I’m ANGRY as I sit here writing this because the book’s title is so perfect and amazing and I am so horrible at titles. This is a formal invitation for Angie Thomas to title my novel. I’ll send you my manuscript. Please and thank you!)

The novel’s title, The Hate U Give, is discussed very early on in the story. According to Tupac, THUG LIFE stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.” Starr spends a lot of the novel dissecting this complex statement, eventually discussing it with her dad to uncover how it applies to not only her current situation, but the world she has grown up in.

(Side note: this conversation happens directly after her dad shares his theories about Harry Potter and how all the Hogwarts houses are gangs, as well as the Death Eaters. It’s compelling.)

Starr eventually comes to the conclusion that it’s not only “infants” that are being fed the hate of racism, but it’s all of society. The system of racism is so deeply ingrained in our society that most white people can’t even recognize it anymore. The violent and devastating actions, the everyday microaggressions, the lives being lost – white people don’t want to admit it’s because there is systematic racism polluting our society at all times. And until we start talking about it, bringing attention to it, and condemning it, it won’t change. And that’s exactly what this book does. Along with Starr, the reader learns how powerful your voice can be in a time of crisis, no matter how often we get shut down. It’s hard work, but it’s necessary work.

“The system is still giving hate, and everybody’s still getting fucked.”

“That’s why people are speaking out, huh? Because it won’t change if we don’t say something.”

“Exactly, we can’t be silent.”

The rest of the book is for you to explore. But I know for me, the power of one’s voice has never felt more important.

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Revival

I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for over a year! Let’s chat about then vs. now.

There were a lot of reasons I finally decided to take the plunge and publish that first post January of 2016, but in all honesty, I had no idea what this blog was going to become over time. My only thoughts were I like to write, I like to share my opinions, and I liked participating in bigger conversations. And this has definitely been the perfect outlet for me to do all three of those things. I’ve written posts about my favorite pop culture topics, commentary on social discourse, given dubious advice, and shared genuine reflections on my life as a young adult. In trying to brainstorm some new ideas for a blog post – considering it’s been well over two months since my last post, yay for consistency! – I figured it might be worth it to take a step back and reevaluate my purpose for this platform. Am I still posting for the same reasons? If not, what are my new motivations and challenges? Is anyone really reading this stuff? Will I ever write that post about why Ben & Leslie are the greatest TV couple to ever exist in the history of network television?

I have a strong feeling that the last one is a solid yes.

One of my biggest hesitations to start my blog was the fact that I never wanted to restrict myself to a schedule. Writing posts was (and still is) the most enjoyable for me when the inspiration was fresh and I felt passionate enough to share my thoughts. Unfortunately, I don’t have very much control over when these moments of inspiration happen – as I’m sure most writers can attest to, harnessing this motivation and discipline to write is one of the most difficult parts of putting words on paper. And while I was able to maintain a semi-regular schedule of posts for a while, these last few months had me getting a little worried. Was it worth it to write something half-assed for the sake of adding content? Or should I wait even longer for the new idea to strike, even if it meant my blog would remain silent for a number of months? I couldn’t really decide, but I always leaned toward the latter. That’s just how I tended to operate. Either I was passionate about doing something or I had very little interest to do it at all.

If you look back to the last post that was published on my blog, you will see another aspect of why I’ve been silent on this platform. The frustrations of the world around me have taken a pretty big toll on my mental health, and over the past few months, I’ve been dealing with a nasty bout of depression. This doesn’t quite mean I’ve been having trouble getting out of bed or that I hate the world around me; mental illness is a lot more complex than that. With everything that has been going on with society as a whole, plus my own personal obstacles I was working through, I found very little interest in a lot of stuff that I would often rely on for support. Any time I had the tiniest speck of an idea for a blog post, the drive to run to my computer and open a new document quickly dissolved, leaving me with tons of unfinished ideas and half-hearted brainstorm sessions.

And while it might have been that nobody gave a shit that I hadn’t posted anything in a while, I gave a shit. And I still do.

So maybe my blog will continue to be a place for me to share stories and ideas with you all, and maybe I won’t post as frequently as I’d like. Or maybe this post will spark a resurgence in my passion for blogging and I’ll pump out a bunch of different posts in the next few weeks. I’ve decided that I’m up for any outcome. Like all of my social media platforms, I like to think of this blog as a more polished representation of me; these posts are the thoughts and ideas and feelings and other things I want to share but may not be able to put into words face-to-face. Instead, I take the time to type them out and organize them and put in some silly jokes or fancy words to get my point across. But that’s also the nature of who I am – I’m a planner, I’m a thinker, and sometimes, I can be a bit of an overachiever. And for now, that seems to be working out just fine, so I think I’ll keep it up. Until it’s time for a nap.