Welcome to the Sunday Movie Review. I’d recently read a fantastic review for the book, The Hate U Give, by an author friend and had added the book to my TBR, but as it turned out, I found the movie on HBO and was compelled to watch it. The book was published in 2017 and with the escalating systemic racism in the US, the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality protests that have ballooned even louder since then make this book a compelling read.
Below, I’ve shared the book and blurb, but for those interested in watching and don’t subscribe to HBO, this movie is also available on Amazon Prime.
8 starred reviews ∙ Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best ∙ William C. Morris Award Winner ∙ National Book Award Longlist ∙ Printz Honor Book ∙ Coretta Scott King Honor Book ∙ #1 New York Times Bestseller!
“Absolutely riveting!” —Jason Reynolds
“Stunning.” —John Green
“This story is necessary. This story is important.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Heartbreakingly topical.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A marvel of verisimilitude.” —Booklist (starred review)
“A powerful, in-your-face novel.” —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.
My 5 Star Review:
With almost 7000 reviews and a full 5-star rating, it isn’t difficult to think how powerful this story is. With the current climate in the US and racial inequality, the story of the wrongful murder of Khalil takes us into the world of what it’s like to be a black person living in these volatile times. I will note, I’ve read several reviews about this story before writing my review and was stunned to actually see some 1 star reviews, which tells me a lot about how racism is alive and well.
This story is a powerful telling by the central teenage character – Starr Carter. The movie begins with Starr and her two younger brothers sitting at the kitchen table with their parents and her father giving a lecture to his young children, educating them on how to behave in society – mainly, when faced with police in possible confrontations. Father demonstrates as he tells his children – if you are stopped by police, always remember to show your hands, as he presses his own hands firmly on the table for demonstration.
Starr grows up in a poor black neighborhood, and through the movie as she narrates, informs us that where she lives everyone is poor, offering no opportunity for work, explaining why so many turn to drug-dealing and crime, for many the only way to survive. Starr struggles with where she fits in society as her parents sent her to a better off preppy high school rather than the hometown high school where Starr tells us there’s nothing in those high schools for advancement other than a life leading to crime and getting pregnant.
Starr struggles with her black identity in a mostly white school and with a white boyfriend. At first she’s embarrassed to let her boyfriend Chris know where she lives, but as the movie progresses, that all changes once Khalil, Starr’s best friend from childhood, is murdered by a policeman right in front of her. Chris must first face acceptance by Starr’s dad, Maverick, and as Chris proves himself worthy of Maverick’s daughter, we can’t help but love his character.
Starr struggles with her blackness and her white world. At school she’s always leery of others the way they judge her as she struggles with fitting in and questioning if her best white girlfriend is really a racist. At the same time, when Starr goes home from school, she’s back in a world where her own roots are strong, creating confusion and uncertainty about where she fits in. Until one day when one of her black friends invites her to a party and her longtime old friend Khalil, who she hasn’t seen in years walks in and they are catching up with each other when a brawl breaks out and shots are fired. Khalil grabs Starr and they flee through the commotion to Khalil’s car and he drives Starr home. As they reminisce about their childhoods and Khalil declares his love for Starr, the sirens approach and Khalil is pulled over on a dark empty street for failing to signal when changing lanes. The instilled instruction that Starr’s father drilled into her as a kid kicks in as Starr immediately places her hands on the dashboard and urges Khalil to do the same. But Khalil is pissed off when the officer asks him to step out of the car and when told to stand there while the officer checks out his I.D. While standing there, Khalil ducks his head inside his car window to listen to what Starr is telling him to do to comply and not ask for trouble, and when he stands back up as the cop approaches the car, it’s pitch dark out and Khalil’s resistance to the situation has the cop shooting Khalil as Starr witnesses the whole event.
Starr is at first hesitant to speak about the crime as she’s traumatized by the witnessing of her best friend’s murder and the tragedy of how black people are treated by society. But she is finally determined to speak out about police brutality and goes live on air to tell the public everything that transpired leading to Khalil’s murder. She goes on to explain how black people don’t stand a fighting chance and why so many are forced to lead a life of crime just to survive. And King, the local druglord was not happy about her talking about that on air, decides to take revenge on Starr’s family for doing so.
I’m not going to let spoilers out what happens after, but suffice it to say, this is a powerful story with so many societal problems and struggles the black population endures, for some on a daily basis. The humanity in this story is astounding, and each character in this story have compelling personalities. Aptly titled – The Hate U Give, as Starr explains stands for THUG – Thuglife. My personal opinion, is this book and/or movie should be required reading/watching in all junior high level classes.There is much to discuss from this movie. Some low-rating reviewers defend the police, stating that they risk their lives when they don’t know if a pullover has a weapon. But humanity has to ask, how does one take a fifty-fifty gamble that there is or isn’t a weapon, so let’s just kill them just in case, dismissing the cost of a human life? I shed many tears throughout this movie so would highly recommend a box of Kleenex by your side when reading or watching.