Book Club Reflection: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

17 Sep

It was a long summer without my book club but we had an amazing book to gather around last week as we discussed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. We all liked the book and felt it was important, even when some people found fault in the characters and plot. For a YA novel, it was sophisticated and a bit dark. We pondered that if it had been any darker and if the ending hadn’t had its happy elements, it might have been too much for a YA audience. As it is, the book teaches good lessons to readers of any age. One member compared it to Sherman Alexie’s Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or the movie Lady Bird (which I’m still dying to see!).

One of the complaints from our group was that there was too much content. There were a lot of characters and some of them were very static and seemed more like a representative of a stereotype or ideology. They could have been cut out to simplify the plot a bit. However, it depends on how you view the book. If the book is about Khalil’s death, most characters are superfluous. However, if it’s a biography of Starr, many of the characters were needed because they affected her views and perspective. Still, some could have been combined or simplified.

Another complaint was that some things were too perfect. Starr’s parents were too perfect, busting King was too perfect, and Williamson was too perfect. The Carters may have had difficult pasts but their current situation as almost ideal. They were also nearly perfect parents and always did and said the right things. (This isn’t one I picked up on while reading.) Busting King and getting everyone to snitch at the same time seemed unreal. We felt that the individuals would have been worried about other King Lords trying to get revenge and it was too good for Starr’s story that her father’s store burning down pushed everyone over the edge. Williamson and the suburbs were idealized and almost too perfect while Garden Heights felt too stereotypical of a ‘ghetto’ neighborhood.

Our amazing group moderator found an NPR interview with Thomas. She talked about the inspiration for this book coming from her experience at a liberal arts college during the Oscar Grant shooting and how she felt like Starr does at Williamson. She spoke about the inspiration for Uncle Carlos as well. While the white officer, 115, is shown in a clearly bad light, Thomas wanted to make sure there was an officer in a positive light. She had a cousin that was a cop and he was the one to give her the talk about how to act around police officers.

She also addressed Chris. Thomas says she’s asked frequently why Starr is dating a white boy. Some of us thought his character was unnecessary in the story but Thomas wanted to show him as an ally. He contrasts well with Hailey. I found him very relatable at the end when he was uncomfortable at the protest even though he wanted to be there and believed in the cause.

This book made for a great discussion and I’m so glad our library supported us reading it! Talking about it helped me appreciate it even more.

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6 Responses to “Book Club Reflection: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas”

  1. Alyssa September 17, 2018 at 11:22 AM #

    I love this book! It sounds like you had a great discussion around it, too! I would put myself in seeing this as a biography of Starr, so I liked how much content there was because everything was represented fairly and we saw a nice picture of her life–it made reading it an incredibly immersive experience.


    • Sam September 17, 2018 at 12:51 PM #

      I think that view makes more sense. Thomas could have easily framed it differently but I love the way she chose to tell the story. Happy reading!


  2. Aymee September 17, 2018 at 12:37 PM #

    This is on my list of books to be read soon. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this.


    • Sam September 17, 2018 at 12:51 PM #

      I hope you’re able to enjoy it soon. Happy reading!


  3. Rae Longest September 17, 2018 at 8:27 PM #

    Good analogy to “Indian” which our book club read and a couple of members strongly objected to the language. (The Hate U Give would give them a heart attack!). I loved Starr’s parents and all her relatives. She had a hard decision to make, and in a way, it was made for her. I had a copy but loaned it and never got it back. I bought a new one.


    • Sam September 17, 2018 at 8:38 PM #

      I haven’t read “Indian” but now I want to. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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