The love I give

Jenna Lasky, Staff Writer

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In 2014, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black boy, was shot to death by a Chicago police officer. In Angie Thomas’s latest novel “The Hate You Give,” sixteen-year-old Starr Carter has to witness the same horrible crime, with her best friend as the victim.

Starr grows up in Garden Heights, a poor and dangerous neighborhood with a bad reputation. Starr is able to escape this danger at a private, affluent high school where she is one of only a few black students. Back home, gangs run rampant, vandalism is common and drug lords rule the neighborhood. Out of desperation for money, Starr’s childhood best friend Khalil begins selling drugs for a gang known as the King Lords.

On the night of a huge neighborhood party, Khalil and Starr overhear gunshots and are forced to flee. After being pulled over by the police, Khalil begrudgingly complies with the officers’ demands. The police officer misinterprets Khalil’s innocent actions and shoots him on the spot. In the aftermath of Khalil’s death, with the support of her loving family, Starr must learn to overcome her grief. She also learns to speak out against police brutality and bring Khalil justice. In the midst of riots and false accusations, friend drama and a broken neighborhood, Starr learns to conquer her identity struggles and use her voice to empower others.

As a fan of realistic fiction, I truly admired the craft and subtle complexities of this book. It helped me generate a deeper understanding of race-inspired police brutality and the ignorance surrounding it.

Despite her circumstances, as a character, Starr is very relatable to a teenage audience. The tiresome attempts to switch between two personas makes her less certain of her true self, which is the case for many adolescents.

This book can educate us about the importance of being more politically or socially aware and turning that consciousness into activism. Activism is always a choice we can make, regardless of a personal connection to the cause. After all, as Thomas wrote, “What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

As I read this book, I recognized how easily people become idle bystanders in remote situations rather than protesting or fighting for reform. Starr reveals that making a difference and showing solidarity for a cause you believe in is possible, especially if there is a cause you are passionate about. After reading this book, I felt more motivated to protest the injustices I witness on a daily basis, whether that is by attending marches or planning community events.

In her book, Thomas was able to weave in and explore many injustices about race, feminism and socioeconomic class. One thing is certain, this New York Times Best Seller is a must-read.

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