The New Mockingbird

Sam Barlow, Staff Member

 

On Friday October 19, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas hit theaters. The book, released in February of 2017, was already revolutionary, but the film will have the ability to reach even more people. In the first month, over 100,000 copies were sold, immediately claiming the number one spot on the best seller list for New York Times, and remaining there since it’s release 85 weeks ago (Alter, 2017). It is loved by teens and adults alike, even getting on the Florida teen reads list, and has received lots of praise- so why are so many people against it?

On one hand, the book has been deemed extremely controversial, and in some places considered highly inappropriate for its discussions on racism, drugs, offensive language, police brutality, and other “adult” themes. It has been labeled young adult, but many think it may be more suitable for even older audiences. However, just as many readers think otherwise. Shannon Ozirny, one of Globe and Mail’s young adult reviewers, wrote, “Ignore the young adult label – this should be the one book everyone reads this year” (Ozirny, 2017). Its reception is like another great novel about racism. In fact, a lot of this story is as well. The plot seems to borrow ideas from Harper Lee’s well-known novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and in real life has attracted a similar reaction. The Hate U Give has gotten many awards, such as the William C. Morris award, the Micheal L. Printz award, and has been considered for a Pulitzer Prize, and To Kill a Mockingbird actually received the prestigious award (Carr, 2018). While to Kill a Mockingbird gained Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s attention and praise, The Hate U Give received praise from his daughters, including the Coretta Scott King Award. Each book has been considered one of America’s most challenged books because of their respective controversies.

While gathering positive feedback, the plot and story itself are also found offensive by many. The main character, Starr Carter, is a black teenage girl who grows up in a bad neighborhood, surrounded by guns, gang violence, and drugs. Most people in her community are considered poor, many are drop outs, and her family tries their best to rise above. Her parents are bound on getting her and her brothers a better life, sending them to the “white” high school, with fewer people of color than most schools today. Her best friend since childhood, Kahlil, gets shot and killed by a white cop at night on the way home from a house party with Starr. He was unarmed, and his headlight was out. The media coverage is far from the truth, on both sides of the debate about white privilege and police brutality; a debate that turns friends against friends, gangs more violent and dangerous, and a small, unknown neighborhood into a war zone. Angie Thomas gives a realistic account of life in “the hood” as a black person, and how Starr’s life does eventually turn. She’s been there herself and continues to share what it can be like (Thomas, 2018).

The Hate U Give provides insight to a serious topic that most people are too scared to talk about and does that better than many others before it. It is painfully realistic, to the point that you might wonder if this exact story really happened to Thomas. The movie has been said to do the book justice, even making Thomas sob after the first viewing. However, the only way to really know is when the public views it. The movie will bring more discussion and controversy than the book, and everyone should watch it. It is definitely worth the emotional train wreck from start to finish and the book should be read by everyone.

 

Alter, A. (2017, March 20). New Crop of Young Adult Novels Explores Race and Police Brutality. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/books/review/black-lives-matter-teenage-books.html?_r=0

Ozirny, S. (2017, April 15). Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Vicki Grant’s Short for Chameleon and Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay, reviewed. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/angie-thomass-the-hate-u-give-vicki-grants-short-for-chameleon-and-nina-lacours-we-are-okay-reviewed/article34414206/

Carr, M. K. (2018, February 12). ‘Hello, Universe,’ ‘We Are Okay’ among ALA 2018 young media award winners. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from https://ew.com/books/2018/02/12/american-library-association-2018-winners/

Thomas, A. (2018). The Hate U Give. New York, NY: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins.