I finally got around to reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Actually, I listened to this on audiobook through Audible . This book, released in February of last year, has had great reviews and a lot of hype around it. I actually haven’t heard any negative press about this book at all. Almost every book blog I read has written a raving review about it. I was starting to feel as though I was the only who hadn’t read it.
When I finally got around to reading it, I couldn’t help but feel that this story was extremely familiar. Yes, it was very similar to a book I read last year, All American Boys, published in 2015. There were a lot of similarities. Both have protagonists in high school. Both take place in urban areas. And both main characters are directly affected by police brutality.
If you’ve read The Hate U Give, then I highly recommend picking up All American Boys. If you haven’t read either, you need to read both of these books. They are awesome and completely relevant for the time we’re in right now.
Here are my reviews of both books…
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr Carter is a high school sophomore living in an urban area called Garden Heights. She goes to a private school in the suburbs and has lost contact with a lot of the kids in the neighborhood. The story opens when her friend takes her to a party in Garden Heights. At the end of the night, Starr witnesses a close friend of hers shot and killed by police. In the aftermath, Starr is afraid to speak up as a witness fearing for her own safety. She soon begins to understand the systemic marginalization that kids from her neighborhood face and struggles to find the courage to speak against this injustice.
This was an amazing story that gives a voice to so many victims of police brutality around the country. Starr struggles with her own identity as well as dealing with the grief of losing a close friend. We always assume that we would do or say certain things if we were faced with a specific situation, but this shows that it’s easier said than done. Sometimes it’s easier to stay quiet than speak out. We ignore comments or actions that shouldn’t be ignored. The truth is that it’s hard to take a stand against injustice, especially if you’re a minority.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were strong. The story was engaging. I couldn’t put it down. I also really liked the audiobook performance. The reader did an excellent job with the different voices, emotions, and accents. I also discovered that you can speed up the rate at which the book is read. I sped it up and finished that baby in 3 days!
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiley
Rashad is in high school, a good student, in ROTC, and is black. After school one Friday afternoon, he goes to a neighborhood convenience store to get a bag of chips. He soon finds himself the victim of a brutal attack by a police officer after being wrongly mistaken for shoplifting.
Quinn, who goes to the same school as Rashad, sees the savage attack of a power-hungry monster against an innocent, powerless teenager. He soon realizes he knows the police officer responsible for the attack. He runs and tells no one what he saw.
The beating, which was caught on video, soon goes viral and gains national media attention. Rashad finds himself at the center of a racially-charged controversy and Quinn soon realizes that staying quiet is not an option.
I feel that this book was better than THUG because it gives two unique perspectives. So often we hear a story from the viewpoint of the oppressed or the oppressor, but never both. Jason Reynolds (black) and Brendan Kiley (white) are both amazing writers and give authentic accounts of how we should respond when faced with social injustice. The writing was concise. The story was captivating and relevant.
Even though I slightly preferred All American Boys over THUG, I absolutely loved and highly recommend both books. I live in St. Paul, just 2 miles from where Philando Castille was murdered. It was heartbreaking when a jury chose not to convict the officer responsible for his death, infuriating when the officer’s dashboard camera footage of the incident was released, and was just plain senseless. And I’m not even a minority. I’m a white woman and I’ve never feared the police. I actually expect them to help me because I’m a white woman.
I can’t even imagine how enraged African American communities must have felt. Reading books like these help me to gain some perspective of what it must feel like to be a minority, especially a black man, in this country when dealing with the police. It must be terrifying. I’ll never pretend to understand or know how it feels, but it helps me to gain empathy towards others, which is why I enjoy reading so much.
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