The Hate U Give has deservedly gathered a bundle of stunning reviews. Thomas begins with a story every teenager can relate to: a party where things get out of hand. The cause of this (a fight which leads to gunshots being exchanged) leads to teenage Starr sensibly getting out of there fast, with an old friend Khalil she hasn’t seen for a while. They get pulled over because of a broken tail light-what follows is a shocking plunge into the violence so much a part of Starr’s existence.
Starr’s father is himself an ex-gang member who has served time and has sent her and her siblings to a private school in a better neighbourhood after another childhood friend was shot dead in a drive-by. But when Khalil is shot and killed by a policeman, the line Starr has drawn between her school life and home life begins to dissolve.
Despite Starr exposing herself and her family to scrutiny by testifying, she holds little hope that justice will be served–in the meantime tensions between rival gangs in the neighbourhood worsen and threaten to drag her father back to something he no longer wants any part of.
Starr has a great, dry, funny teen voice: the warmth of her home life and depiction of the dilemmas she faces make this book one any teen will relate to. Most of all, despite its length this is a very readable account of a too familiar tragedy, where every character feels truly real and alive. 14+