There are so many words I can use to describe how this book made me feel. It made me angry, frustrated, disappointed in the fact that that happened in the story still happen. It also made me laugh hard and epitomised the importance of family and togetherness. As together we are more powerful than just one. The title of the book is derived from Tupac’s Thug Life Philosophy “The Hate You Little Infants Fuck Everybody. Which is something that the novel returns to consistently.
The novel tells the story of a young teenager called Starr who at the beginning is at a house party but must leave abruptly with her childhood friend Khalil after a fight starts and leads to gunshots. Both assume they are safe until they are stopped by police, which is where things go heartbreakingly wrong. Khalil is murdered in cold blood by a police officer with Starr unable to do anything but watch her childhood friend perish. However, as the story goes on she never forgets the police officers badge referring to him as “Officer One Fifteen” throughout the story.
Starr lives with her family consisting of her father big Mav a changed ex convict who once used to be a gang member now running a convenience store and her mother a nurse. She also has two siblings Seven and Sakani. Oh and also can’t forget their pet dog Brickz. Due to the violence in the area they live known as Garden Heights, Starr and her siblings are sent to a predominately White school in the Suburbs. The area they live in has to deal with gang violence and the struggle people are going through I.e. drug addicts.
To make matters even more complicated she has an white boyfriend called Chris and she’s afraid how he will handle it as she explains
“anytime he finds out a black person is with a white person suddenly somethings wrong with them. I don’t want him looking at me like that
Moreover, she’s hidden many things from her friends and Chris particularly losing another childhood friend when she was a child and the fact that she was the eyewitness in Khalil’s death. She’s wary that her friends will judge her due to her being from “the ghetto” and will therefore have no sympathy. She acts like two different people at home and at school and you do get the feeling that she just wants to be her true self
In addition to this, she does face soft racism by her friends such as Hailey who pissed me so much throughout the story with her comments and had the audacity to say “I’m not racist, it was a joke”. I’m sure we’ve all come across people like that😑.
Anyway, because of the incident with the police and being an eye witness Starr must take to the stands and give her account of what really happened. I’m sure you can guess how that goes knowing how messed up the justice system is in that part of the world. A heartbreaking part in the book sees Starrs father being forced to lay on the ground while being searched. Mav is humiliated in front of his daughter with the police officer keeping a hand on his gun throughout the whole process. As a result of the police brutality and racism Mav has taught her how deal with these situations I.e. “Keep your hands visible,” “Don’t make any sudden moves.” It’s sad and unnerving to see that Black children in particular have to be given tutorials on how to survive if they are stopped by the police.
As the novel goes on Starr releases the bravery inside of her and decides to make a statement to the high court. She’s scared and terrified but puts that all aside in order to get justice for her friend. My favorite part in this book is when she’s told by her mother(I think)
Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you go on even though you’re scared
I love the how as the story goes on Starr becomes stronger and fights for what she believes in even though she’s scared. Angie Thomas is brilliant in the way she portrays the characters and the intimate nature of her writing with regards to Starrs situation was brilliant. Furthermore, although the novel does deal with a dark element it is very funny and lighthearted at times. Angie Thomas is a brilliant writer and I think she can appeal to people of all ages and colour. She has mirrored what people of colour can go through and I’m sure many have related to certain aspects of the story. I for one have had to deal with soft racism many times. Anyway everyone should read this for sure, it will open your mind to a lot of things👌🏾