Audio Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas @acthomasbooks
Narrator: Bahni Turpin @TheRealBahniT
Reviewer: Grace
Genre: Young Adult, Social & Family Issues
Length: 11 hours and 40 mins, 469 pages
Rating: 4.5 Stars


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.

Grace Review

Story: 4.5 stars
This book takes an in-depth look at the relevant yet controversial Black Lives Matter movement.
Where the rage starts.
How actions by law enforcement impact Black society.
How they struggle to vent their frustrations.

It is not an easy read. Not because it is overly graphic. This is in fact, a YA read. However, it is difficult because it is so real.

The multiple encounters with the police gutted me. You could see how wrong it all was. And that there is nothing the other person (that being the Black person), could do anything to stop it. Are mistakes made during those confrontations with the police? Yes, but they are so minor, it is hard to see how those mistakes justify the reactions.

As a white female, I can’t possibly know what it is like to be in a Black person’s shoes. But this book gave me as real a glimpse into their world as possible.

I loved Starr’s innocence. How she truly is a good girl, who is forced to witness and become a figurehead in the movement she didn’t want to be part of.

In my opinion, the heart of this story is not what happened to Khalil, but more of how Stars and those in her community dealt with that unjustified death and the expected outcome. The most intriguing parts of the story are the reflective ones, where the characters discuss what has come to be the book title, The Hate U Give, or the acronym THUG, inspired by Tupac. Or how the community struggles with gangs – why men join and how difficult it is to get out. My favorite parts were those quiet moments Starr shares with her Dad. Teaching her from his mistakes and helping Starr find her path.

Through the whole story, we are step by step with Starr, from the fear and anguish, to the frustration and anger. In a short period of time, she is forced to do a lot of things that terrify her, but with time, comes the bravery.

Performance: 5++++ stars
You have great audio performances, and then you have phenomenal audio performances. This one will stand out as one of the best I’ve listened to.

The biggest thing that stood out, is that I couldn’t place the age of the narrator. At times, she perfectly captured the youthfulness of Starr and her friends. Lots of sass and drama, but also vulnerability given the extreme situations she faced. At other times, the narrator captured the maturity of her parents with a hardened perspective.

The other thing I loved was the author’s passion in her delivery. She didn’t read the story, she WAS the story. Every moment felt real and honest. Emotion on full display through my speakers.

If this audio doesn’t win an Audie award, it will be a crime. And that would be just too fitting for this story.

Overall: 4.5 stars
This is one of those books that I recommend everyone should read. No matter where you stand on the Black Lives Matter movement, I think this book gives a lot of valuable insight on the daily struggles that this community faces. The differing perspectives from Starr’s school vs. her neighborhood were realistic and showed the author has a great grasp on cultural differences and the perceptions at various economic and social levels. I know it is a story I will never forget and I’m looking forward to seeing it translated to the big screen.

– Grace

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