So, before I start this review, I’d like to mention that this book should not have been a part of my ‘fun’ and ‘light read’ summer reading list 🙂 The Hate You Give was one of the May/June read selections for the OSS book club on Goodreads.
Am I glad I read this book? Yes.
Did this book create an increased awareness about a subject that is serious and prevalent? Yes.
Would I club it under the same league as two of my favourite books which touch upon a similar subject matter (To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill)? No.
Now that we have the above set as a premise for this review, here are my thoughts on the book. I actually have a lot to say and discuss about the book, its content, characters, plot and message, but I’m going to do that as part of my book club discussion. This post, is a shorter version of what I thought about the book overall.
What the book is about
This book is classified as Young Adult Fiction or Teenage fiction. But the story is inspired by a series of true events that have taken place over the years. A young black teenage boy is murdered by a white Police officer, because the officer seemed ‘threatened’. The friend who witnessed this event, is the protagonist and a black teenager herself. What happens after this event and how it impacts all the characters, is what the story is about.
What I liked about the book:
- This was a sucker punch of a book. I have mentioned the other two books earlier in my post, that are my favourite books on the subject of racism. But the narrators in those books are the white lawyers, or their families. I have never read a book about racism narrated by a person who suffers from it. How they feel about it. How they have to deal with it in every single aspect of their lives. This is the part of the book, that made me think so much and realise that I have been prejudiced or been a racist in many ways myself too. I just cannot understand how it feels unless I am in the shoes of the person myself. Many times in the book, I felt like I was a Hailey to some of my friends and might have hurt them without even realising. I wish I can apologise to everyone I might have hurt. See, I can understand the fight for feminism, or equality of gender, because I am a woman. But despite the words or actions of many men I know- friends and family, they will never really understand what I feel or have to go through, as a woman. In the same way, despite all my open mindedness or empathy, I can never actually feel how an oppressed minority or a person who is discriminated against, due to superficial reasons, feels. This book makes you realise that- and just because of that reason, I am glad I read it
- The length of the book and the fact that it pays homage to some of the real life victims of racism towards the end of the book. Now I know their names and their stories too, and now even I will not forget
- The message in the book- “Sometimes you can do all the right things and still can still go wrong. The important part is, never to stop doing right“- Wise words from Starr’s mom
- Harry Potter is sacred to me. Lots of Harry Potter references in the book:)
Things that didn’t work for me so much:
- It is teenage fiction, so maybe I can give it a pass. But it was difficult to follow the story or read faster, because of all the dialogues in the book, that were written the way they would speak
- So much reference to Tupac- sorry, but maybe I couldn’t understand the cultural importance because this isn’t a part of the music or artists I listen to or like?
- I wish the author had kept the story on a single track throughout the book- focusing on the killing. But the book seemed almost split into two halves- one story about racism and another about Starr’s life as a teenager. Maybe there was a point to this, that I just missed? I don’t know 🙂
- The ending- I wish there was a happier and less messy ending. I really don’t condone violence of any kind, unless it is for self defence. So I was really upset by the chapter on the riots and how everyone participates in it and thinks it is right to do so. Riots are like wars to me- innocent people get hurt in the process. Lives , livelihoods and homes get destroyed and people cannot be controlled when they get into a mob frenzy. I don’t understand the point of it.
My favourite characters in the book
I didn’t have a favourite character in this book, but I did like Starr’s mom the best amongst the whole cast. She seemed to be the most practical and sane person in the whole story 🙂
Note: Racism is a sensitive subject, and I have tried to be careful I don’t hurt any culture’s sentiments in this review.