The Hate U Give delves into the life of Starr Carter and her best friend's death at the hands of a police officer during a traffic stop. Starr's life is turned upside down as she now has to navigate whether or not to be a witness for the shooting and how that effects her stature in her community. Starr wants to help bring justice for her friend, but the complexity of issues involved are numerous. Will she be able to convince the grand jury that Khalil wasn't to blame for his death? Will her neighbors believe that she has done enough? Will she become the target of the officers who feel she's unjustly accusing them of murder? Will her testimony fuel the anger that's already brewing in her neighborhood? And, why would it matter if Khalil was a drug dealer or gang banger (even though Starr isn't sure it's true) when he did nothing wrong? Isn't a life a life?
Thomas also explores what is means to be black in Starr's world. She was born and lives in a predominantly poor black neighborhood but her parents send her to a private school that is mostly white. Starr must figure out who she is and how she can merge the two Starrs she's become: Big Mav's daughter from Garden Heights and prep-school Williamson Starr. Is she black enough for her black friends and is she not too black for her white friends? Can she show the real Starr to her white prep-school boyfriend and best friend? Does Starr have the courage to stand-up to the casual racism at her prestigious school?
This book goes beyond the terribleness that accompanies the wrongful killing of black people by police. It is an important read for anyone trying to understand the many nuances of racism and issues behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Starr's experiences of being a black teen in today's America was quite eye-opening and kept me up reading late into the night.