Angie Thomas’s award-winning (it’s a Printz Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and an Odyssey winner, among other accolades), bestselling (it spent 50 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list) debut (!) novel, The Hate U Give is an emotional wallop of a book, a masterful story about race, racism, family, community, and the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s an absolutely stunning novel, making the fact that it is a debut even more mind-blowing, and a book that I read over the course of one snowy afternoon, physically unable to put down the story of Starr and the harrowing turn her life took after she saw a police officer kill her friend. I am counting down the minutes until the film adaptation is released (click here for the trailer and prepare for goosebumps).
It’s also one of the most frequently challenged books of the year, with critics pointing to its drug use, offensie language, and “pervasive vulgarity”. It was banned by the Katy, Texas School District, because of its language and themes that made parents and administrators uncomfortable. A police union in South Carolina wanted it removed from a reading list because of the themes of police brutality.
As part of our Banned Books Week celebration, I wholeheartedly recommend that you read The Hate U Give, if you haven’t already, not only to take a stand against censorship but because–I am seriously not overstating this–it’s a simply amazing book.
If you have already read it and are clamoring for more socially conscious stories about race, I recommend the following titles:
All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely--a black boy who is attacked by a cop and a white boy whose best friend is the cop’s brother are the two narrators in this story of how racism affects a community.
Dear Martin, by Nic Stone–caught between two worlds, private school student Justyce worries about how his school is impacting his identity and explores the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
How It Went Down, by Keckla Magoon--when a black teen is killed by a white man, no two witnesses tell the same story.
Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson–Jade attends an elite private school on scholarship and, to her dismay, is invited to join a mentorship program for poor black women.
Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, by Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin–Trayvon Martin’s parents, in alternating chapters, reflect on the shocking loss of their teenaged son in an act of senseless violence.