September 23 – 29 is Banned Books week, a week celebrating the freedom to read, drawing attention to banned and challenged books, and highlighting persecuted individuals or groups. Each day this week, I’ll countdown the top ten books most often challenged or removed from schools, universities, or libraries across the United States.
#8 – The Hate U Give
written by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give landed on the Banned Books list for several reasons: “pervasively vulgar,” drug use, profanity, violence, and offensive language. Many parents are trying to have it removed from school libraries, while other school districts list it as required reading.
This Young Adult book follows Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old student who lives in a poor, predominately black neighborhood but attends a an affluent (and predominately white) private school. Police break up a party and Starr is driven home by her childhood friend, Khalil. On the way home, they’re stopped for a minor infraction and Khalil reaches into the backseat for a hairbrush and is shot and killed by the police, who think he’s reaching for a weapon.
The shooting makes national news and puts Starr in a untenable position: keep her two lives—poor background and prep student—separate, or fight back against the racism that took her friend’s life. She fights back, turning to activism while the police officer is under investigation.
Like any book, it has it’s problems. Some see it as full of stereotypes and lacking in powerful, positive black role models, while others see it as an attack on the police. There may be some truth in both views on the surface, but the experiences Starr lives through are very real. It’s easy to find underprivileged and rundown sections of any town predominately populated by black families. Most “good” (meaning: well-funded) schools are either predominately white or private institutions or both. And seeing the strength in Starr’s father in overcoming his gang-banging past to become a loving father and successful business owner is empowering to anyone.
This is a debut novel for Thomas, and it went to auction before finding a home at HarperCollins’ imprint Balzer + Bray. Fox 2000 obtained the movie rights the following month and is set for an October 2018 release.