Illustration by Debra Cartwright

By Stephanie Younger • 

Originally published on HCPL TeenScene’s Read & Review and Re-Published on Richmond Youth Peace Project • 

In the new YA novel, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, a 16-year old black teen who has witnessed the two fatal shootings of her childhood. friends tries to make sense of the world. A 16-year-old Black teen who has witnessed the two fatal shootings of her childhood best friends, tries to make sense of the world. Starr Carter witnessed the first shooting when she was ten, in an impoverished neighborhood. After the shooting that went unsolved, Starr’s parents send her to a predominately white suburban school far from home. By sixteen, Starr felt no connection to the neighborhood kids she started school with. That changes when Starr is the sole witness to the police shooting death of her other best friend, who was unarmed. As Khalil’s shooting gains national attention, Starr starts to become aware of injustices. As Starr starts noticing casual racism in her community, she suspects that it may cost her one of her friendships. The shooting changes Starr, who slowly grows into the responsibility of using her best weapon, her voice.

As a Black girl around Starr’s age, the story was moving, and influential for me. I felt the author was trying to tell me that it’s worth speaking up about things that are relevant to me, even if there is a price to pay. The moment Starr demands that police brutality needs to end was a very empowering. It is important for teenagers like Starr to use platforms for social change so their voices can be heard. Readers will feel inspired, as I was. The Hate U Give is Angie Thomas’s first novel.

Stephanie Younger is a 14-year-old writer based in Central Virginia.