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Presented by State Library Victoria

A reflection on 'The Hate U Give'

Before I start, I am just going to say that, no, I did not spell the title incorrectly. If you read this book – and I highly recommend that you do – you will find out why it is named so. You will also find out in this review. I am going to find it very hard to reflect on this book, as I felt it would be more suitable for a 16-year-old to read (I’m 12, nearly 13). There were many great themes in The Hate U Give, all of which were quite full-on, but sent out an important message. For this review, I’m going to try and reflect on some of these themes, but it may just end up as me describing something that happened, so here goes…

The protagonist, Starr, felt a lot of pressure when she went to school, due to her belief that she had to change who she was there. Starr lived in a neighbourhood notorious for its gangs, gunshots and drug dealers – not a very nice picture. The continuous outbursts of violence in the streets convinced Starr’s parents (well, her mum, anyway) to move her to the fancy high school in the suburbs. She didn’t want anyone to know that she lived in what she called the ghetto, so she changed how she behaved and even how she spoke. She was also one of the two only black kids in the grade. This shows that even though the majority of us are working towards and supporting an equal world, people still don’t feel comfortable about where they come from, what colour their skin is, etc.

The amount of trust that we put in the hands of the police is immense. We rely on them to protect us from crime and danger. But every so often you hear the story that an officer shot or bashed an innocent or unarmed victim. Now, I’m not against police. In fact (and this may seem completely against what I’m trying to say) I feel so much safer with the knowledge that the police force is always at hand. But those very, VERY rare occurrences of crime committed by police are exactly what happened in The Hate U Give. Starr’s best friend Khalil was shot and killed by a police officer. And the cop may have shot him because he was black and was in a neighbourhood renowned for being dodgy. He made an assumption that Khalil and Starr were up to no good. And that assumption cost Khalil his life.

Another thing this amazing novel showed is that people can change and always deserve a second chance. Usually they get it right that next time. Many people in The Hate U Give either deserved or got a second chance, and they came out of that situation all the better. Starr’s father was a gang member when he was younger, and he ended up going to prison for a few years. But when he got out, he was a changed man. He had had time to reflect on his actions, and he knew that he was missing out on his life, and the lives of his family. Another character who definitely deserved their shot at redemption was a boy named DeVante. His family was desperate for money, and they constantly had to make the choice between food or some other basic necessity. He felt like the only way to get that money would be to work with the King Lords, the alpha gang of the neighbourhood. He later regretted it and requested the help of Starr’s dad to get out of the business.

A rapper in this novel claimed that Thug Life stood for The Hate U Give Little Infants F**** Everybody. This basically means that the hate people give the oppressed when they are young, comes back to get them when they become drug dealers and criminals. I find that this message probably covers the vast majority of criminals and wrong-doers. Even if they are mentally effected, that could be because they suffered abuse when they were younger, which is not a nice thought.

Personally, I was slightly overwhelmed by The Hate U Give. However, it did give me a whole new perspective on the lives of some people who live in harsher environments. It was also a great novel that supported black rights and speaking up against evil, even that evil is trying to crush you. Probably the only reason I wouldn’t give this book a 10 out of 10 is because I felt it was slightly over the top for me – it took me two times to read it, so I could get a better understanding of it and review it. I still loved it though! I rate this book an 8.5 out of 10.