My Culture

The Book You Should Read Right Now!

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” -George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Have you ever read a story or finished a movie only to be wanting for more of the narrative? Have you ever felt so moved or motivated by a character that you’ve started asking yourself, “what would (insert favorite character) do?” Even if you don’t consider yourself a big reader or movie-goer, you can probably name that one fictional character you’ve either wanted to emulate or (perhaps) wring the neck of. Or, you can name that one person or city that doesn’t actually exist in reality but very much exists in your own story. Whether you’ve learned a lesson from them about what to do or what not to do, or just very much wish you could exist within that imaginary world IRL, a good story has the power to elicit a truth about ourselves or our world in a whole new way.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a profound story that accomplishes just this. So much so, that it’s been hailed as a “classic of our time” (looking at you, John Green). It is a story about Starr, a 16-year-old black girl who lives between “the ghetto” and her predominantly white private school. She is the sole witnesses of the shooting of one of her childhood friends, an unarmed black teenager, committed by a white police officer.

It is a story about her healing, her community’s reaction, and her sassy, courageous, no-nonsense exploration of her own identity discovered very much through this tragedy. It is a story about sadness and a story about hope. It is a story about social misconceptions and the demand for social change. It is a story about being both black and white.

It is relevant. It is real. It is important. And, it is downright devourable.

If you are in need of a great new novel to pick up, I highly recommend The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas has successfully told us a fictional story that is, in many ways, very very real. Through the timeliness of issues raised, the setting, and impeccable character development, Thomas successfully draws readers into the narrative — no matter where they were raised or the color of their skin.

Although I couldn’t personally relate to many of the issues that Starr experienced, I felt as though I still was given the honor to journey with her — to see a perspective much, much different than my own, and in rallying alongside her as she fights for justice.

After Starr’s friend is shot, she recalls, “ …people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it all ends right. Maybe this can be it.” I think that maybe this can be it — maybe this is a book that will elicit justice. Not necessarily purely political or social justice but justice in the hearts of one another… justice we’ve been created to pursue because of the love with which our heavenly Father has created us.

This book taught me so much and grew me in ways that I did not even think I needed to be challenged in. I’ve learned so much from Starr about life and loss and love. And, I’m so very grateful that Angie Thomas was bold enough to write this story.

If you’re not a big reader, the movie adaptation will be out in theatres on October 19! Grab a box of tissues, and check out the trailer.

Editor’s note: The Hate U Give contains explicit language and mature content, not appropriate for all teens. Ask a parent before reading.

About the Author

Rachel Penate

I am a Wisconsin girl at heart who has a slight obsession with the band Switchfoot. When I was little I dreamed of becoming a professional figure skater, but instead found myself studying Education. Currently I reside in the great, yet terribly hot state of Arizona and am neither a figure skater or teacher - I joyfully serve the Church as Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Life Teen. When I'm not typing away at my desk, I'm spending time with my family, working out, or relaxing with my nose buried in a book. Follow me on Twitter @LT_RachelP or on Instagram @bookmamareviews.

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