The Hate U Give Review: Fighting Against Black Oppression

March 24, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

The Hate U Give Review: Fighting Against Black OppressionThe Hate U Give Published by Walker Books Australia on March 1, 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Own Voices, Diversity
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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.

Black kids getting shot. Murdered by police when unarmed without a reason. Working against a system that will never give them justice.

Although Starr and Garden Heights is fictional, this is a story that is very real for many black families out there. When they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong, when they get themselves an education, work hard and look after their families, they may still never justice over the unfair shootings of black kids. Simply because they are black.

The ghetto often has a negative connotation to it, but we see Garden Heights as a vibrant and tight knit community of people looking after each other. Whether it’s the shop owners feeding the neighbourhood, to families watching each others backs, kids looking after their parents or even the King Lord gangsters providing protection for others, this is a community that you don’t mess with.

The Hate U Give opened my eyes to so many things I’ve admittedly been ignorant about. The “thug” life and how some kids have no choice but to sell drugs to make a living. The reliance on neighbourhood gangs for protection, used in place of the police they can’t trust. The double identities that teenagers like Starr have to live, so that white people don’t assume she’s a stereotypical ghetto girl and write her off as someone who’s beneath them.

Starr goes through an internal struggle, coping with grief from losing her best friend, fear of speaking out against a system that is working against her, and also the pain of hiding her real self from the private school she attends. Her commentary is frank, matter of fact but also heartening. This girl has a lot of soul, and you can’t help but love her.

Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.

Along with the social commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement, the book also covers the key people in a teen’s life – family, friends and a relationship. Starr is dating Chris who is a white boy, which her strict father wouldn’t approve of but he’s also the sweetest, most understanding boy you’ve ever laid eyes on. I loved how he provided stability, understanding and normalcy to Starr’s turbulent life, and never judged her for her different home life.

Starr’s friendships are also complex, covering the dynamics between the friends from her neighbourhood and the friends from her school. Standing up for yourself and calling out those who are close to you for being racist takes strength, but it does take time to build confidence to do that. Last but not least, I loved Starr’s family members and how they showed their love for her, their family, and their neighbourhood. Each and every character in The Hate U Give is vibrant, heartfelt and memorable.

I don’t talk like me or sound like me. I choose every word carefully and make sure I pronounce them well. I can never, ever let anyone think I’m ghetto.

We hear about black people getting shot and the ghetto crime that happens in the media, but we are none the wiser about what really goes on in the community. That’s why The Hate U Give is such an important read, providing an insider’s insight into black lives, families, and neighbourhoods. The Hate U Give arms every soul out there, whether oppressed or privileged, with the knowledge to understand oppression and take action.

And perhaps the most important thing about the book – black teenagers now have a character they can relate to, someone who is inspiration in their own right and copes with many of the struggles that they do. Black teens can be the hero of the story too, and they can be empowered to seek change.

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Hate U Give is out now at Australian bookstores for RRP$17.99.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia for sending me a review copy.

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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35 responses to “The Hate U Give Review: Fighting Against Black Oppression

  1. Olivia-Savannah

    I have heard so many things about this novel, which is why I am going to be reading it as soon as I get the chance to buy it. I am so happy that what this does is not only discuss oppression, and how and what fighting back involves, which is so relevant today as well… but that it also presents a different light on things which are often seen as negative, such as the ghetto. I'll admit there are negatives to it, but like everything, it is more grey than just black and white. There is good there too.

  2. I couldn't agree more Jeann, it was such a power and important read. I read this one with a few of my POC friends and in particular African American friends so I could really feel that connection between fiction and the ramifications of police brutality and young black Americans in particular who are racially profiled and gunned down why the police and white society. I think being Australian, we probably couldn't imagine what gun culture really is. I've never seen a gun and the thought that people can carry guns in some states in the US terrifies me, but to live your life in fear because of the colour of your skin. My goodness, that is absolutely horrific. I just can't even imagine it. Absolutely brilliant review Jeann and I love seeing so many African American readers rejoicing that they feel represented, that readers are listening and their stories are so, SO important <3

  3. annajayne99

    I have heard lots of good things about this book and plan to read it sometime in the future. It sounds like a really good read.

  4. Sarah

    I've been scared to read this book because of all the hype but it sounds really epic. I love books that involve a strong family environment and it just sounds so compelling. Thanks for sharing, I'll be sure to check this one out soon!

    • It's definitely a book that's filled with warmth and heart, but with an important message behind it. I hope you enjoy it Sarah!

  5. I think, now more than ever, it’s essential that we have books like these that promote diversity and help educate people. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one, and seeing you liked it so much just makes me even more excited to read it. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

    • I completely agree, because being white cisnet is not the norm. I'm so glad this one is getting hyped up and so much attention because it's incredible! Thank you lovely! <3

  6. I totally agree with you, this book was so, so important for every single person to read. I really hope that it continues to be read by so many people because it is just THAT good. The book tugged on my emotions in so many ways, and it was just… I don't even have enough words. Because it was an important book of course, but it is also just a phenomenal book all around. Such a lovely review, Jeann!

    • It was so amazing, I felt like I had so many emotions I wrote this review at like 11pm at night. I couldn't stop thinking about it and I learnt so much! Thank you so much Shannon, I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!

  7. I'm really glad you liked this, Jeann. I'm pleased at how much praise the book is getting in the book community. It totally deserves it. I learned a ton from reading this one too and I'm very grateful to the book for that. And her writing is so lovely too. She totally brought that setting to life and the characters! I can't wait to see whatever she writes next!
    Great review!

    • I completely agree, it's such an important read and I loved reading more about it to educate myself. I loved how it addressed important issues but also brought to life such beautiful, vibrant characters. Thanks Nick!

  8. Yay, I'm looking forward to reading your review (Although I did sneak a peek at Goodreads). Actually, it didn't rain today surprisingly! Thank god because my laundry got to dry lol. It was such a fantastic book!

  9. Ahhhh omg this book. I just loved everything about it. And I often feel very separate to the #BlackLivesMatter issues (simply because of being in Australia), but THUG really humanised it.

    • I compeltely agree Em, things are so different in Australia it's so difficult to comment and understand things. We definitely opened our eyes!

  10. Geybie's Book Blog

    Awesome review. Glad to hear that you loved this book too. This book has been on my radar for almost two weeks. I'm planning to buy it after I finish The Others series. I love reading about marginalized groups/communities.

    • Thank you Geybie, I really enjoyed reading it and it was really important! I hope you enjoy picking it up when you get the chance.

  11. Such a poignant and important read! Agree, I also feel like I need more education within this area, and would love to learn more about the black community and its residents. Thanks for sharing this read Jeann, I can't wait to read it x

    • I completely agree, it was so refreshing reading it from an ownvoices author and seeing "the other side" you know? I feel like we have a lot to learn and this was a step in the right direction.

  12. This sounds wonderful, powerful and current. I love that it offers someone for a young girl to look up to and an understanding for others. Great review.

    • It is such an important book Kimba and I really enjoyed reading it and sharing my review with the world. Thank you lovely!

  13. Bieke (Nelly B.)

    Such an amazing and important book. I'm so glad I see everyone loving it as much as I did. <3

  14. Emily

    I'm so excited so start reading this one. I should probably bump it up on my TBR. It definitely sounds like one that EVERYONE needs to read. It's hard to believe that this is a debut novel with all the glowing reviews it has been receiving. And as always, an amazing review Jeann 😀

    • Yesss, it's such a fantastic book that is definitely memorable and important! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading <3

  15. Bec

    I don't think I've seen a review for this book that is below 5 stars!! It's importance and themes, plus all the glowing reviews from bloggers I trust, means this has made it's way onto my TBR!

  16. Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel

    This book is everywhere in social media. So glad you loved it and the book is not just hyped. It deals with some strong, much needed topics essential and relevant to YA

  17. Cyn @ Bookmunchies

    " The Hate U Give arms every soul out there, whether oppressed or privileged, with the knowledge to understand oppression and take action." <– That is so fantastic to hear! I'm glad this was such an amazing read and hopefully their will be more books like this soon! I really need to get on this ASAP!
    Lovely review, Jeann!

  18. kris

    YES THUG IS SUCH A FANTASTIC AND IMPORTANT BOOK. I am not black, but I do attend university in Detroit, so I've seen a glimpse of what police brutality is like. It's almost impossible to understand why a 16 year old kid would be selling drugs when his family is already afflicted with addiction, UNTIL YOU KNOW THE INSIDE OF THE STORY. If I was in the shoes of Khalil, I'm not sure I would've done anything different. A lot of people will do anything for their family at the cost of their own life if it means protection for those they care about most. I love the ethical question THUG raises of just because someone was not innocent in the eyes of the law (selling drugs), does that REALLY mean they deserve to die? That's a very important question when it comes down to cases such as this.

    As someone who has been personally affected by murder, although not at the hands of the police, this book means so much to me. I may not be able to understand the sheer atrocities they suffer every single day, but I can completely relate to unexpected and completely undeserved death.
    P.S. I'm posting my review of this today haha 🙂

    • Wow, what is your blog link Kris, I would love to check it out! Yeah, it's so easy to judge others when we're on a moral high ground but when you find out the individual stories, sometimes it's something that we've never thought of. It was such an important book and it definitely illustrated just how unfair the system was for black people. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!