The Saint Anselm Crier

New young adult book spreads awareness for one of America’s greatest social problems

Stephanie Canto, Crier Staff

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“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

 

Debut author Angie Thomas’s young adult novel The Hate U Give turned one-year-old this past February. It was an instant success and the movie adaption is currently in the process of coming to life for the big screen.

 

The Hate U Give tells a raw story of a young high school girl, Starr Carter. She is a normal girl, going to a normal school, with a normal boyfriend. Her world gets turned upside-down on the night she is the witness to her childhood friend, Khalil’s, murder. The news makes national headlines and eventually Starr is identified as the only other witness. The matter becomes Starr’s word against the officer that killed Khalil.

 

Sometimes people get turned off when a novel is classified as “young adult,” but that can often add a lot to the perception of the story. If it were from anyone but Starr’s point of view, then the story would not have worked as well as it did. Teenagers bring a new perspective into social issues, like the Black Lives Matter movement. Following Starr’s growth from a normal girl to finding her voice was something everyone can learn from, teenager or adult.

 

Everything in this book is pure and raw. There is nothing that is glazed over: not when Khalil gets shot unarmed for doing nothing wrong, not when the law enforcement took no action against the ordeal, not when it’s found out that Khalil was holding a hairbrush and not a gun, and not when the riots rang through the streets screaming Khalil’s name. Readers see exactly how the media portrayed Khalil: That, instead of being the victim, he was “in a gang” and from “a poor neighborhood.”

 

Something like this made me think about how often this happens, everyday, and we accept it as truth. Thomas shoves it in your face how the media portrayals of victims can effect the outcomes of justice, and seeing it from Starr’s perspective can only make the reader angrier at the injustice that still exists in our society. It’s a heartbreakingly honest parallel of what is happening in America. This book could have been a biography, that’s how real it seemed. Seeing Starr grow from this and learn to speak out when she was afraid is an inspiration for teenagers everywhere to find their voice.

 

This is a novel that should be taught in schools across America. Something like this is so teachable. Of course classic accounts of racial issues hold just as much value, such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. However, if young people sat and read this book, it would be easy to relate it to what they see in the real world. Kids grow up in a society where they see something like Khalil’s death happening on the news every week, but they view it as an outsider.

 

In our lives, we experience many different things. But there are some things that we will never experience. For me, I will never experience systematic oppression. I will never go through the years of hatred, or the police viewing me as a threat as soon as they lay eyes on me. Reading this book left me with a new outlook on the world, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the truth of police brutality. It’s a novel that everyone should pick up, no matter your race or ethnicity, to experience something about the world through fiction.

 

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New young adult book spreads awareness for one of America’s greatest social problems