By Aiyana Spear
In my opinion, the sign of an incredible book is when I read it and it sticks with me for days after. I finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas almost two weeks ago, and there has not been a day where I didn’t think about it. I believe that I will continue to think about this book for the rest of my life.
Reading about current social and political issues can be difficult; often when reading I want a book that will distract me from our current US problems. Writing about these issues can also be difficult due to the challenge of maintaining a balance between not wanting to go too far and be too political but still wanting to get your message across. Angie Thomas successfully and skillfully finds that balance, and her book, The Hate U Give, is a book that all Americans should read- especially white americans like me. When picking up this book for the first time, I assumed that it would be solely the gruesome, gut-wrenching details of a young black boy who was killed by a police officer. I assumed that it would only make me more exhausted that the issues so evident around me keep happening. I thought that it would leave me hanging only feeling more hopeless about the state of our world today. And in a way, it did, but not in the way I thought it would, and it did not exhaust me.
“A hairbrush is not a gun”
Starr faces many difficulties in this book, such as: witnessing her friend being killed, dealing with ptsd and struggling with “simple” things such as arguments with her parents and her white boyfriend. These difficulties made Starr feel like a real person who I could connect with. Often I wanted to take her and wrap her up in a blanket and protect her from the world, but Starr does not need my or anyone else’s protection- she is a badass who has gone through way too much for a 16 year old.
The main characters in YA novels have steadily become younger than me, both because I am getting older and these protagonists are getting younger; Starr is a year younger than me and she has gone through more than any teenager should ever have to go through. But the thing is, there is a Starr out there in this world, there are black teens and children in this world who have gone through more than I can ever imagine going through. And that is the value of this book this book makes the struggles of all of those children out there real- it gives them a voice and maybe, just maybe, it’ll change one person’s mind out there.
This book does not sugarcoat our world, it does not paint a rosy picture and, no spoilers or anything, it does not give the reader a hollywood ending where everything turns out perfectly. And after reading it, I wouldn’t want it to. It is searingly raw and honest and it not only tells of the story of a boy shot by the police and the aftermath of it, but it tells the story of a young black girl straddling two different worlds, the one of her black neighborhood and the other of her white rich school.
This book gives the human stories of people who are deeply impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement, who were incredibly affected by the many people who died. After reading this book, Black Lives Matter became more than a hashtag on twitter or a protest on the news, it became a real issue that is impacting teenagers just like me. This book is a searing portrayal of a heart wrenching movement.
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.”
As writers, artists, and just ordinary people, we are constantly on the look out for something inspiring. Something that will catch your (and our) interest and push away some of the monotony of everyday life. Here you will be able to find some reading suggestions and writing prompts that the Young Author’s Collective deems interesting and inspiring.