I started following Angie Thomas on Twitter as I was trying to network and promote my own book. For months, I have wanted to get my hands on this book and am so glad that I finally did. This is an unpaid and unsolicited review of her book.
Have you ever read a book that you already know how it’s going to end? Not because the ending is that obvious to foresee, but because the story is so close to real life issues, that an author would do it an immense disservice by sugar coating it and giving it a better ending.
This book should make you feel a wide spectrum of emotions. Whether it’s because you have witnessed these injustices firsthand, you know these exist through story telling from friends and acquaintances, or even simply watching the news. Flat out, this book makes you feel uncomfortable, makes you view things in a different light, and makes you ask yourself , “What can I do to help?”
Angie throws the issue of racism in your face through the eyes of her main character, Starr, a teenaged African American girl who lives on the bad side of town. She addresses racism in the outside world, race/gang activity within communities, the issue of wanting to better one’s life without abandoning your neighbors and culture, wanting a better life for your family, rising above to break the cycle, views on inter racial romance, police brutality… there are so many issues and themes addressed in this book that to truly give justice to them all I would need to read it again. Above all there is a theme of love. Through all the ugliness, there is love. Love for family, friends, community, and culture. Although I have read reviews stating this book is perpetuating hate, I couldn’t disagree more. My take away, was that the author was trying to explain the many complicated layers for our young heroine in this story. The internal struggle of right from wrong, where do I fit in, how do I maintain my heritage, how do I not look like a sellout or abandoning anyone, how do I maintain when it seems like the world won’t listen or is out to get me. If anything, I walked away from this book changed.
I will never pretend to understand what it is like to grow up any other ethnicity than white. I recognize that I have been afforded so many more life opportunities due to this. I have however tried to reach out my hand to individuals of other cultures, only to have it verbally slapped away. I have been told I don’t understand, I can’t help, or I am the problem. I still actively look for ways in which I can help and keep looking for the individual or group that can help me find a way. Books like this need to be written and they need to be read by everyone. Until I can actively find a way to help the cause, I will share this book with as many people as I can until my throat runs dry. Our racial divide isn’t black and white. I have always felt that our media perpetuates the hate between the races in the way that they report crimes in our country. Angie addresses just that in a scene with Starr and her friends at her private school, and puts her and the characters around her in a tense situation. Those uncomfortable scenes, they need to be spotlighted. They need to be brought to the forefront not just so they can be recognized, but also to make the reader then reflect and potentially recognize and correct these actions within themselves.
My hopes is that one day this book becomes part of public education curriculum, as it speaks on so many levels not only to the younger generation, but to all ages who are willing to listen.
If you don’t get a chance to read the book, it is being turned into a movie. As an avid bibliophile, I will say most books are better than their movies, so I would suggest buying one off the shelf before it hits theatres.
Did I mention this is her debut novel? Angie has another book being released next year and I guarantee I will be in line to pick it up when it is released.