If we’re connected on Goodreads, you know I’ve set a challenge for myself of 52 books this year. If you follow me in this space, you know I’m all about the importance of educators talking about their reading and lives as literate citizens. As such, I’ll be talking a bit about my completed books as they stack up this year.
I missed the first wave of The Hate U Give when it first came out because I figured it would be a book that asked for my attention. I wanted to be able to give it. Then, when I was finally able to make that space in my brain, the library’s hold list was full of folks who must have had similar ideas.
Finally, it was my turn last week and I started and finished the book in less than two days. I was worried it would take a lot longer because of the tears that kept coming in the first few chapters. I managed to get myself under control and loved every part of Angie Thomas’s book.
For those coming even later to the party, The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter and the aftershocks in her life after she witnesses her friend’s murder by a police officer during a traffic stop.
Thomas creates a world and characters that are consistently fully fleshed out. It’s an important feat for any author, but one all-the-more necessary given the short shrift marginalized characters get across so many popular texts. From Starr to her family to her friends, each character has fullness I wish I didn’t find as surprising in modern fiction, and this helped me feel compassion for nearly everyone in the story. No one is perfect, and everyone is worth knowing.
The temptation here is to simply say – #WeNeedDiverseBooks, but I’ll go a bit further than that.
I picked up the book because I felt like I was missing out. I’d tell others to pick it up because of Thomas’s masterful conveyance of Starr’s emotional and intellectual reactions to the shooting, its fallout, and the questions it raises in her world. Even without the shooting, Thomas opens a window into code switching and its possible emotional toll.
Yes, I’d lobby hard to make sure students of all shades have access to this text. It might be just as important to make sure it finds its way into the hands of an equally vivid array of educators.
In the End
Sense finishing The Hate U Give I’ve been working to come up with a clear explanation of why I think this book affected me deeply. I think I’ve got it. Thomas’s writing never feels as though she’s writing against a narrative. Instead, from the first page, she says to readers “this is the world.” She does it with honesty as to ever-possible darkness, but also, with hope and belief in the agency of characters she clearly loves.
What Else I’ve Been Reading
- This post from elementary teacher Jennifer Orr is a wonderful example of why I love reading her and her ability to give us a view into the lives of some of our youngest learners.
- While Shana White‘s twitter feed is always on point, her blog posts like this one give are consistent gifts, building understanding of experiences much different from my own.
- Sabrina Stevens’s post about the importance of the #MeTooK12 campaign is something I’d bring to any upcoming faculty meeting, along with the question, “What are we going to do?”