Angie Thomas told the story my students tried to tell me for many years.
In the early 2000s, I frequently read essays my teenaged students wrote about Tupac Shakir. I didn’t know about the artist or his story and learned few details from my students’ writing. But I could often feel their sincerity and the essence of something big they tried to express.
Reading The Hate U Give, I finally got what they were trying to tell me. I’ll tell you why by the numbers.
- Angie Thomas, above all, is a superb story teller. The plot about a police shooting drove me from page to page. I read it on a family vacation for hours through a sleepless night in a noisy hotel and through the ultimate test of car reading. My near obsession made me a little carsick, but I kept looking up at the mountains to get my head clear enough to dive back into the story. I almost never do that but had to see what would happen next.
- I cared so much because the main character was so well drawn. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter was a likable person and what happened to her family, her friends, and Starr mattered to me.
- The language was fantastic. In the first few pages, my writer’s brain marveled at the way she used dialog and got the speech just right. I am in awe and more than a little envious of her skill.
- Even though I know little about rap, I followed the bits about the artists and lyrics she described. The title of the book comes from Tupac’s work with a deeper meaning that I’ll let you read yourself to discover.
- What happened felt tragically realistic and, yet, hopeful at the same time. I always admire people who can look at a dire situation and then bring it around to something worth reading about and living for.
- Finally, I didn’t agree with everything the character did and thought and would love to discuss the book with someone. I’ll be passing it around and begging others to read it, so I can talk to them–one last and telling mark of a great story.
Wishing you good books and challenging thoughts-