Debut novel hailed as modern counterpart to “To Kill a Mockingbird”

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Debut novel hailed as modern counterpart to “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Jameson Morgan, Reporter

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  A truly captivating piece of literature Angie Thomas created when she wrote “The Hate U Give”. So much so that the book is already being challenged and banned across the country. These bannings have gone to show how controversial the book is and how much its issue resonates with people.

   For a straight white male, this book was an amazing new perspective on issues of race, violence, poverty, and struggle. The protagonist Starr Carter faces all these battles while having to manage her two different personalities.

    The first Starr we are introduced to is the Garden Heights Starr is who is too scared to talk to people she’s been around her whole life. The Garden Heights Starr is the one who witnesses the murder of her close friend Khalil, a person whom she’s seen her whole life.

   But it is the other Starr, Williamson Starr where she must face the backlash of the incident and judgment from her friends who attend her prestigious prep school. While it is a lot of effort to keep these two worlds apart, it is essential that they remain separate.

   But why they must remain separate is a question that Starr struggles to answer throughout the book, as well as she mourns the death of Khalil. Starr becomes a transformed person throughout the book, from individual afraid to speak to a so-called revolutionary.

   Throughout her journey, she has the help of her half brother Seven, her friend Maya and her step-sister Kenya. But the most meaningful relationship she has is with her white boyfriend Chris, who despite being another ‘Williamson’ kid with wealth, understands and embraces her the best. Chris is the only person from her Williamson life with her.

   Through the course of the book Starr both gains friends like DaVante and loses friends like Hailey. This is because she decides to be the true Starr all the time. That is someone between the Williamson and Garden Heights Starr, who embraces both her past and the relationship she’s made with people outside of her world.

  Separate worlds cease to exist when intimate friend Kahlil was shot, someone who was practically family to Starr. Kahlil was part of her earliest memories, her most painful ones and for now, the biggest one. Kahlil was someone who understood Starr, the true Starr no matter how long they have been separated.

   People like Kahlil, her father, and Uncle Carlos, awaken her to the reality of the world. They show her a flawed world that nonetheless has opportunity to create beauty, like when everyone gathers together to condemn King.They also help Starr determine what is important in her life.

   Her understanding of Tupac’s T.H.UG. L.I.F.E.- The Hate U Give Little Infants F**k’s Everybody,  allows Starr to be shining light in her dark world. After initially not wanting to have media attention or testify in front of a grand jury, she gets the strength to do so. She determines that it is what Kahlil wants, and that is what she would want to have done to her. She also sees it in Officer 115 and the other cops who question her father. The culture gap which persists between black and white communities plays a large role in the shooting.

   Although the officer who killed Khalil is ultimately not tried for his crimes, the book still ends in triumph. People like Starr, Chris and Maya  are able to save some infants and create a better world for people like Sekani to grow up in. To do so, they must change their culture. In the aftermath of Khalil’s death, the community is able to rid itself of King, the lord of their part of Garden Heights, the villain who captures DaVante and burns down Starr’s father shop. The changed opinion of the community on snitching shows the strength of the community and its ability to unify.

   Change is the only constant in the book. Static, in both the forms of characters and tones, is something unfamiliar to Mrs. Thomas. In her first ever novel, she was able to create a masterfully told story, in which she weaves the lives of countless individuals, lives, and stories together. Much is discovered throughout the book, and much is provided in the way of mental stimulation.

   While a work of realistic fiction, much of the book is tied into current world happenings. So much so that the book ends with a list of those slain at the hands from the hands of police, from Tamir Rice to Freddie Gray to Philando Castile. It would not take such a stretch of the imagination to believe that Kahlil or Starr or even King are real people. While this may have been required reading for some, it can provide relevant insight for the rest of us. No doubt, “The Hate U Give” is a book worth reading.

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