The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.
It is Spring break in America and while all of 16 year old Starr’s friends are talking about going to Taipei, the Bahamas and Harry Potter World she watches a cop kill her childhood friend and has his blood spill all over her.
Yes this is a tough book but it is essential that stories like this are told and the dangers of racism are seen for what they are. The story clearly grew out of events in USA that have led to the Black Lives Matter movement and it is difficult to see a more powerful novel about this topic come out anywhere in the World this year. It will stun you.
Khalil is also 16 years old he runs with the gangs because he has to. His mother is a Meth freak. He sees no other alternative, she needs help. Starr was his childhood friend and he takes her to a party where shots are fired, some boy is killed and on the car ride away from the party they are pulled over by the cop who kills Khalil.
Starr’s father has experienced the gang life, served jail time and now runs a store and taken his family away from that life. Starr goes to an essentially white school where if the white boys talk street slang they are cool but if the black girl does she is “hood”.
Starr also has a white boyfriend.
This powerful novel looks at the killing and asks questions about justice and racism. It also looks at the families of those living in the “hood” and their options in life. It is easier for them to find crack than it is to find a good school.
The way this story is spun by the different sides seems typical of Trump’s America where false news dominates and spin is more important than truth. As an Australian mate of mine said “this is a flamin’ good story”.
Senior fiction and Young Adult. It is simply written with the dialogue between characters superb. The phrase “stank Eye” really tickled me. If you don’t know it I bet you feel the same. The title comes from a rap by Tupac Shakur, put the first letter of each word of the title together and you get THUG. You will kick yourself if you miss this one.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Pub. Katherine Tegen Books, imprint HarperCollins, 2017.
One of the most powerfully written novels for Senior students and young adults that I have ever read. It is an emotional roller coaster ride concerning events that people just don’t want to believe or face. It addresses the question of justice. Can there ever be true justice for those who are helpless to defend themselves?
Mary B. Addison was 9 years old when the 6 month old baby, Alyssa, whom her mother was babysitting, was killed violently by Mary – allegedly. Too horrific to think that a child could kill another child. That’s what the justice system, the media and the populace at large thought. Get it over with, put her inside and forget about her? Throw away the key.
Mary spends years in baby prison as she calls it and now on the eve of her 16th birthday she is put in a group home with other girls who are also deeply disturbed. Mary has been abused to the level where she says nothing, beaten black and blue and has no hope for herself in this world. She is lead to believe by her mother that the devil is inside her and there is no hope for her. But Mary loved Alyssa and not a day goes by when she doesn’t think of her.
Then several things happen at the new Group home. Mary meets Ted a 19 year old boy who works at the old peoples home where Mary is allowed to work. Mary becomes pregnant with a child she calls Bean. Ted is good for her and opens her up. Then a new girl comes to the home and shows Mary computer access to the World and introduces Mary to a lawyer Ms. Cora who interviews Mary and decides to make an appeal to have her case reopened.
I can tell you no more. It is a compelling read and if you don’t get emotionally involved with this story then you are heartless. You will be full of hope and gutted at the same time.
This is a special book. Read it, savour it, ask questions. Mary loves a mother who doesn’t deserve her love. The ending thankfully is hopeful.
I just had to read this novel and put in my 2 bobs worth because To kill A Mockingbird was one of my favourite childhood novels and because early publicity about this novel suggested Atticus Finch was a racist. Bullshit!!!
Atticus Finch is now 72 years old and suffers from arthritis. He still lives in Maycomb Junction with his sister Alexandra who is a real star of this novel. He practices law as he always will, sits on the town council and still upholds justice. He can still hold an argument, stand up for his principles and has a sharp sense of humour. When Scout or Jean Louise is found to have swum in the river with her intended Henry and it is suspected that it was in the nude, Atticus retorts “I hope she wasn’t swimming on her back”.
Jean Louise now 26 years, returns on holiday after living 2 years in New York where life is open and things that would horrify citizens of Maycomb, go unnoticed. Jean Louise has put Atticus up on a pedestal because of her childhood and the only place for him to go is down.
The world is changing for race relationships in America with the Civil Rights Movement taking off faster in some areas than it is in the South. Jean Louise attends a Council meeting chaired by Atticus and her intended Henry and a rank redneck speaker charges against desegregation and talks nigger this and nigger that. Jean Louise is physically sick.
Confrontation between Jean Louise and Atticus is inevitable and as Atticus would say absolutely necessary. He has brought Scout up to be her own person and that she surely is. Their confrontation is stunning, an inter-generation barney that is unforgettable and one that lifts this novel from more than a sequel to Mockingbird and into a stand alone classic on it’s own.
Bob Dylan a decade later wrote”get out of the new world if you can’t then you’re damned cos the times they are a’changing”. Not everyone moves at the same pace with Maycomb and old age being well behind New York and youth. but it is the words of Atticus that define this novel for me “Hypocrites have just as much right to live in this world as anybody”. Go ahead cast the first stone.
Don’t miss this book.