It’s amazing to me what an absolute phenomenon The Hate U Give was. I remember reading the book in college and not being able to put it down, and now it’s been a New York Times bestseller for like two entire years. And while the movie didn’t get the critical acclaim it deserved, I think it really captured the heart of the book and provided a great accompaniment to such a good book.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
The Hate U Give is one of those books that stays with you–that you recommend to others for years. I would quite literally argue that it should be required reading in high schools. It’s timely, it’s well-written, it resonates with teens and adults a like, and it’s got real world implications. Plus, it’s just like a GOOD BOOK. A book you WANT to read, even when it’s hard. Angie Thomas infuses a lot of pop culture into the book without making it feel stuck in the 2015 era. I for one loved all the Harry Potter references–it made it feel like I knew these teens and was invested in them even before I saw how the book was going to go. It’s a powerful book, it really is, and it is one I recommend to literally everyone to read.
Now, onto the movie:
The movie stars Amandla Stenberg, Common, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, KJ Apa, Sabrina Carpenter, Algee Smith and Lamar Johnson. The movie is SO well done. It’s moving, it hits the most important notes of the book. The ending does deviate slightly (involving the younger brother) and while I was almost mad it wasn’t in the book, it was SO MOVING I cried and cried and I had to take my white sweater off and cry into my tank top to avoid the makeup stains. Even thinking about that scene made me cry—and while it wasn’t in the book, it echoes what we see too often in the news, and that made it even more powerful. The Sabrina Carpenter character is just as dang awful in the movie, and I loved Regina Hall/Russell Hornsby as the parents. I think Starr’s parents are what makes the book so great in many ways, and their casting was superb. Hell, the whole cast was great.
Anyway, go see this movie. Read the book. Recommend it. Make it your book club pick. You won’t regret it.