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review 2018-06-09 01:21
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Re-read remarks

I re-read this because I am teaching this. My first review stands, but let me add something. Like many teachers, I noticed what my students are doing when I walk into a classroom. Usually, it's everyone looking at thier cell phones. But yesterday, I walked in and most of the class was reading this book, and most of the class is ahead of where they need to be. That's something special. Thank you, Angie Thomas.

Older Review
It’s Obsidian Blue’s fault I read this book now. It is. I was, still am, advocating this for my book club, but it wouldn’t be until the end of the year because we are booked till October.

Yeah so, but after Blue wrote a glowing review, I knew I had to read because if Blue really loves something, it means that I will really love it.

Yeah, so, all those reviews about how this is the book of the year, how this is the book that everyone should read this year, all those reviews are right.

Starr is from the “ghetto” but because her parents want the best for her and her brothers, so she and her brothers attend a fancy prep school about 45-60 minutes away. In her home neighborhood, she is known basically as her father’s daughter who works at his store.

She is two people prep school Starr and neighborhood Starr.

And then what happens to often happens. A friend is shot by a police officer. An unarmed friend is shot by a white police officer. Starr’s worlds collide in ways that are expected and not so much.

Look, I’m white so what Starr experiences is something I never experienced and never will experience. Yes, all teens have that dichotomy, but there is a vast different between the standard two persona teen and two personas for simple survival sake, so my view of reality is different, but this book feels real. I have taught Starr’s parents. My friend teaches Starr’s classmates.

The amount of detail in this engrossing read is great. It is Starr’s growing knowledge about those around here, in all her places – not only her classmates but her family and friends as well. There is the case of Maya, Kenya, and Chris – who quite frankly comes across as a wonderful. Starr’s father is a former gang member, but her uncle is a detective. There is the conflict of a desire or need for a better and/or safer life and to do right by your birth place. There is a good bit about cycles and the need to break them, about being trapped in a place where every choice is bad.

And it is to Thomas’ credit that fairy tale ending isn’t there, at least not wholly (you could argue that a certain facet of a fairy tale ending is present). The ending feels real, Starr’s voice is real, there is not a false step here at all.

The book isn’t anti-police – after all there is Starr’s uncle. Additionally, it isn’t racist against white people. There’s not only Chris, but his parents (not central characters but their part in the end works), there are also several white friends of Starr who are her friends. The question of her boyfriend at the end of the book isn’t so much questioning as teasing (honestly, it happens all the time).

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text 2018-05-01 19:30
Decent Read, View into Race Relations
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

So starting out, I felt the story very contrived.  Almost a Boyz in the Hood for the 21st Century.  You have your girl leaving the ghetto to go to a rich, private school.  As the story goes on, it does get better.  I enjoyed seeing the interactions after the shooting with the lawyer and how the character has to get the strength to go before the Grand Jury.  I like seeing the family move to the suburbs to save themselves, but then for the white boyfriend to go with her to protest back in the city.  Decent read.

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text 2018-03-01 19:30
Controversial Reads
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Love, Hate and Other Filters - Samira Ahmed
This Is Where It Ends - Marieke Nijkamp

I love books that make me feel something. Whether it is loss, pain, regret, happiness or love. The fact that the book has an effect emotionally to a reader means it has a very legitimate tie to the real world. This is the exact reason I wanted to read these three books. I knew it would provoke something in me and create discussion. I'm all for discussion, as long as its an adult and mature one. I know that my views are not shared by everyone and this is why I have held off on reviewing these books. But I feel we sometimes hide too much because of the fear. The fear that we will be yelled at, blamed, called names. So while I debate on whether to review these and other controversial books, Id like to know how you guys feel. 


Maybe not about the books above, but regarding books that hit a nerve. I'm interested to hear what you think

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review 2018-02-27 09:32
Disperse this book widely, please.
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

The Hurt U Give (THUG) An important read for younger readers, especially those who have little in common with the characters in this story. It's vital that more people understand the issue of police brutality from the standpoint of those most often in its crosshairs. This book could go a very long way toward achieving that. Woven smartly through the overall theme were issues of family, poverty, community, education, parenting, innocence, and best of all: the worth of those who have been imprisoned portrayed magically through Big Mav.


All of those things are great. I'm thrilled to know people in rural areas are reading it, people all over the world are reading it, that it will be a movie and I will certainly be buying copies for young people in the future, because it's a book that teaches many lessons.


Nonetheless, at times it felt pedantic and laugh-aloud funny with definitions written into the prose for common terms and actions. Because this book is meant to be read widely, hopefully by those who have the least in common with Starr, her awesome family and her community, these moments that pulled me sharply away from the story might be unobtrusive and reassuring to another reader. The problems with these explanations for me was 1) there are too many of them and 2) they are borderline pedantic, and 3) they felt clunky and slowed the pace considerably from an important story.


Here's an example (hang on while I find one...OK back) This is from the part where Chris and Starr are in Seven's car and she sees her neighborhood through what she imagines Chris' eyes to be, "There's lots of hoopties, cars that should've been in the junk-yard a long time ago." (Kindle Edition, Chapter 22, p. 379.) Why not simply, "There's lots of hoopties." Until just now I didn't realize that wasn't a word everyone would know. I'm 50 and it's been around as long as I can remember. I'm on the opposite coast from this book's setting, so at least in the US, it's not regionally specific.


At those times THUG felt to me like a teaching aid for white people, which it certainly could and should be. Distracting or not, these "explainers" mean many more people can enjoy the book (though dictionaries and internet searches never killed anyone.) I thought, frequently, while reading this book that between the strong family setting, the clear love for everyone involved, the excellent manners and picture-perfect characters this would be another great book for white readers to break into the lived black experience. Angie Thomas makes Starr the perfect vehicle for innocent children made into monsters by virtue of skin color and environment.


Along those lines, it seemed a bit too happily ever after too, but once again, I'm reading a book I'm way too old for, and the style is very clearly for young readers. That's not me. It's hard to fault a book for being what it is when I am clearly not the intended reader.


I could quibble more but I won't. I will give this book to the lovers and the marchers and the peacemakers and the many I hope will learn from it. (I'm praying the banning of this book in some areas means lots of kids are smuggling copies into their houses and reading it late at night.)


Because if nothing else, this one point about children being made into monsters by media and increasingly terrified police officers, victims tried in the court of public opinion is a strong and vital message. Any way we can get more people to understand it is fine by me. It's vital -- quite literally a life and death issue. The more we can show the humanity in all to those for whom city-dwelling brown people are foreign, the more we will hopefully - with work - change this issue. This is a welcoming story with likeable, sympathetic characters with whom people will easily empathize.


Go out, buy physical copies, give them to everyone you think might need it. Leave them in public places. Disperse this book widely, please.


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review 2018-01-22 19:56
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

A lot of people have already written great reviews of this book. I highly recommend Obsidian Blue's review, which you can find here, as an example of strong review. I'm not going to try to outdo the reviews that have already been written, so think of this as my voice added to the chorus, focused specifically on how the book resonated with me.


Angie Thomas has a gift for characterization and a unique narrative voice. Starr, the main character, was complex, convincing and compelling. She infused her characters with realism and her settings with the kinds of details that make a place come alive. Nothing is one dimensional for Angie Thomas, or even for Starr. She doesn't insult her readers by suggesting that complex questions are simple.


I devoured this book, reading it in about two hours. I was immersed in Starr's world. This book is the reason that #weneeddiversebooks. I need diverse books. Hearing Starr's voice has, in a very real way, changed my perspective. She provided me - 51 year old white lady - with a window into her world. I can only imagine that if I were a young black girl, having her as a mirror would be immeasurably satisfying.


Anyway, read Obsidian's review. And then read this book. 

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