Hey all, Dani here.
Black Lives Matter. It seems crazy that we need to keep saying that statement in 2020. But I will be one of the ones to keep saying it until we can make it true. I know I haven’t been the best ally out there, but I am working on being better and doing better.
So, normally June is the month that I participate in the American Library Association’s GLBT Book Month. I read all across the diversity spectrum throughout the year, but in certain months I like to feature specific topics or genres or age ranges on my blog. But, with everything going on in the world I wanted to do something to add my voice to the conversation. Being that I am primarily a book blogger, I figured I would strive to read more books by black writers, and then review those books.
I started with a book that I am ashamed to say has been sitting on my shelves for a few years without me picking it up. I actually feel rather bad about that. But wow, what a way to start my June reading.
Okay, let’s get started with the review.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
ISBN: 0062498533 (ISBN13: 9780062498533)
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
Rating: 5 stars
This book both was and was not written for me. Let me attempt to explain. It was not written for me because I am white. This book was not written for me to see myself in its pages and identify strongly with any of the main characters. But I want to believe that this book was written for me so that I can understand another POV. It is not the responsibility of any person of color to educate me on my privilege or on any aspect of their lives, but by writing books like this one–which is not written for me but that I will still pick up and read–I can still learn.
I’ve struggled to figure out how to write this review, but all I can do is what I do for any book I read, and just talk about what I felt and thought, both good and bad, while reading.
It took me a little while to connect with Starr, because her life is so different from mine. But the way she moves through the world, and the way she speaks and acts and hopes and dreams and loves, some of that is universal coming-of-age, and I think we can all connect with and identify with that, regardless of skin color.
Experiencing being pulled over with Starr and being there with her in the car as the officer treated them like criminals when they had done nothing wrong, and then escalated things farther by firing his gun…that was a dramatic scene. And then all the questions and doubt and the reactions of neighbors, friends, family, and classmates. Then throw in the police interview/interrogation. Then add in the decision to speak out, and the concerns and the threats. Then add in the protests and riots. And the annoyingly bogus trial decision. There is just so much of this book that sadly rings true.
On a side note, there’s actual a prequel to this book coming out in January 2021 that follows Starr’s dad, Maverick Carter, 17 years before the events of The Hate U Give. The book is called Concrete Rose, and I definitely think I’ll be picking it up.
This book was compelling and powerful and both terrifying and inspirational. It does highlight some immense wrongs with the way the world works. We need to do better. We need to be better.
I can’t say that I loved this book like I would a fantasy book. But I do love that this book is out in the world. I think the world needs this book and other books like it. I hate that this book is so reflective of reality, and I hate that events like what is in this book are still happening. And maybe it’s silly to hope that a collection of books, both fiction and non-fiction can help to change the world, but books have changed my world so many times over, so perhaps it’s possible.
I definitely plan to consume more fiction by authors of color, but I’m also thinking that now is the time to also pick up some non-fiction so I can better educate myself and be a better ally to the black community.