Eight Starred Reviews!
"Absolutely riveting!" —Jason Reynolds
"Stunning." —John Green
"This story is necessary. This story is important." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Heartbreakingly topical." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A marvel of verisimilitude." —Booklist (starred review)
"A powerful, in-your-face novel." —The Horn Book (starred review)
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.
A Note from the Author:
The story behind The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I remember the first time I saw Emmett Louis Till.
I couldn’t have been more than eight years old. I came across his photo in a Jet magazine that marked the anniversary of his death. At the time, I was convinced he wasn’t real, or at least that he wasn’t a person. What was supposed to be a face was mutilated beyond recognition. He looked more like a prop from a movie to me; a monster from some over-the-top horror flick.
But he was a person, a boy, and his story was a cautionary tale, even for a black girl in Mississippi who was born more than three decades after he died. “Know your worth,” my mom would say, “but also know that not everyone values you as much as I do.”
Still, Emmett wasn’t real to me. There was no way I’d ever have to worry about anything like that happening to me or to someone I knew. Things had changed, even in Mississippi. That was history. The present had its own problems
I grew up in a neighborhood that’s notorious for all the wrong reasons. Drug dealers, shootings, crime, insert other “ghetto” stereotypes here. While everything they showed on the news was true, there was so much more that you wouldn’t see unless you lived there. It was my home. My neighbors were family. The neighborhood drug dealer was a superhero who gave kids money for snacks and beat up pedophiles who tried to snatch little girls off the street. The cops could be superheroes too, but I was taught at a young age to be “mindful” around them. So had my friends. We’d all heard stories, and though they didn’t come with mutilated photos, they were realer than Emmett.
I remember the first time I saw the video of Oscar Grant.
I was a transfer student in my first year at the college I’d later graduate from. It was in a nicer part of town than where I lived, but only ten minutes away from it, and it was very, very white. A majority of the time, I was the only black student in my creative writing classes. I did everything I could so no one would label me as the “black girl from the hood.” I would leave home, blasting Tupac, but by the time I arrived to pick up a friend, I was listening to the Jonas Brothers. I kept quiet whenever race came up in discussions, despite the glances I’d get because as the “token black girl,” I was expected to speak.
But Oscar did something to me. Suddenly, Emmett wasn’t history. Emmett was still reality.
The video was shocking for multiple reasons, one being that someone actually caught it on tape. This was undeniable evidence that had never been provided for the stories I’d heard. Yet my classmates, who had never heard such tales, had their own opinions about it.
“He should’ve just done what they said.”
“He was resisting.”
“I heard he was an ex-con and a drug dealer.”
“He had it coming. Why are people so mad?”
“They were just doing their job.”
And I hate to admit it, but I still remained silent.
I was hurt, no doubt. And angry. Frustrated. Straight-up pissed. I knew plenty of Oscars. I grew up with them and I was friends with them. This was like being told that they deserved to die.
As the unrest took place in Oakland, I wondered how my community would react if that happened to one of our Oscars. I also wondered if my classmates would make the same comments if I became an Oscar. I wasn’t an ex-con or a drug dealer, but I was from a neighborhood they were afraid to visit, the same neighborhood they once jokingly said was full of criminals, not knowing that’s where I lived until months later.
From all of those questions and emotions, The Hate U Give was born.
I’ve always told stories. When I can’t find a way to say the words out loud, I create characters who do it for me. The Hate U Give started as a short story my senior year. It was cathartic at the time, and I thought I was done telling Starr and Khalil’s story because I foolishly hoped Oscar wouldn’t happen again.
But then there was Trayvon. Michael. Eric. Tamir.
And there was more anger, frustration, and hurt for me, my peers, and the kids in my neighborhood who saw themselves in those gentlemen. So I expressed those feelings the best way I knew how, through story, in hopes that I would give a voice to every kid who feels the same way I do and is not sure how to express it.
But my ultimate hope is that everyone who reads this book, no matter their experiences, walks away from it understanding those feelings and sharing them in some way.
And maybe then, Emmett Louis Till can truly become history.
About the Author
Nikki Giovanni, poet, activist, mother, and professor, is a seven-time NAACP Image Award winner and the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award, and holds the Langston Hughes Medal for Outstanding Poetry, among many other honors. The author of twenty-eight books and a Grammy nominee for The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, she is the University Distinguished Professor of English at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.