The Hate U Give: Timely Book, Heart-wrenching Story

Gracie Poehlman, Writer, Photographer

There’s a purpose to the grammatical incorrectness of this book’s title. The Hate U Give is named for a phrase attributed to the late Tupac Shakur, who coined the term “thug life;” the authors of Tupac Shakur: The Life and Times of an American Icon, among others, assert that “thug life” is an acronym meaning “The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody.”

The theme of hatred pervades this book, from the casual “them versus us” mentality separating the communities Angie Thomas portrays, to the self-hatred the main character, Starr Carter, holds because of her two personas, to the hatred between former friends that appears towards the end of the book. The most obvious hatred in this book stems from a very real, very terrifying situation: a teenager named Khalil is shot by a cop. He’s not just any teenager, though, at least to Starr: he’s her childhood best friend. He’s her ride home from a party that ended in a shootout. Most important to society, he’s black.

“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.” summarizes Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I’m white, middle class. I don’t listen to rap.

But I loved this book.

Firstly, on a surface level, the feels are incredible. This book will make anyone cry.

Secondly, this book shines a light on aspects of this issue that are not seen in mainstream media. Most of the members of society seeing an issue like this one will side with the police, citing how stressful a cop’s job is. The Hate U Give brings how hard lives on the other side of the gun can be into focus.

In between the hate and the activism, this book also shows just how rich and complex the various cultures in American society are and how they interact. This is a source for some of the hatred throughout the text, but it also brings hope. Relationships, whether friendly or romantic, can be built between very different people and cultures.

Finally, the book ends on a rather optimistic tone for such a harsh premise. While many readers would think the obvious course of action would be for Starr to seek vengeance, instead she decides to become an activist.

This book leaves readers with a profound message: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”


The Bob Jones Book Club will be reading The Hate U Give for the rest of the school year. To be involved in the discussion, check out the Bob Jones Book Club Goodreads page, or stay in the Media Center after school on a Tuesday.