The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is book 4 this year. This is a YA book that will soon be a movie. I am hoping it will also win the Newbery Award. This is an important and timely book about an African American teenage girl who grows up in a poor and violent neighborhood but attends a rich, private, predominately white school. She is the sole witness to the shooting of one of her best friends by a cop. The book follows her struggles facing the fear of testifying and telling her white friends and boyfriend about what she went through, how they will see her differently, and even how she feels like she is betraying her friend by dating a white boy.
There are so many wonderful things about this book. The black family is close, strong, educated, and successful. The parents are understanding but firm. The parents are married, and the father is an ex-con who has turned his life around and has a loving relationship with all of his children. The mother accepts into the family her husband’s son, who was born out of an adulterous affair. She loves him as her own and is a better mother to him than his own mother. The parents struggle with wanting to protect their children by moving to a safer neighborhood but not wanting to abandon their home and friends. The book explores honestly, but without ever condoning it, the reasons that people turn to a life of drugs and gangs and why they turn to rioting when their community is hit with police brutality. In the end, the protagonist discovers that her best weapon is her voice. I also love that the white boyfriend didn’t turn out to be a disappointment. I kept waiting for it, but it never happened. He had a few foibles, he struggled to understand, but he listened and learned and was present. A good example for us all.
I must admit, there were times when I wanted to protest. “But the cop had no way of knowing that he wasn’t reaching for a gun.” “He was told not to move, and he moved.” “All he had to do was follow direction.” Then I realized that this was a time to listen. The author didn’t need my agreement or my approval — she needed my to listen. There is far too little of that going on today.
Everyone should read this book. Parents should discuss it with their children. There is so much here to talk about, and it’s a vital conversation to have.