The Book Corner: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas not only focuses on the injustices of police brutality in America, but also how internalized racism influences the power of your voice.


Illustration by Michelle Rodriguez.

Darlene Antoine, Features Editor

In the wake of national protests, and outcry over police brutality, racial discrimination, and civil unrest, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas remains as prevalent as ever since its debut in 2017.

The contemporary novel follows the life of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter who grapples living in two worlds: Garden Heights, the poor neighborhood where she lives, and Williamson Prep, the fancy suburban preparatory school she attends.

The focus of the novel centers on how the balance between these two worlds is broken when Starr bears witness to the murder of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a police officer.

Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Starr is faced with the surmounting pressures of speaking up on Khalil’s behalf as his death makes national headlines, or attempting to uphold the strict balance between the worlds of Garden Heights and Williamson Prep.

Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night?

And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.


While the story focuses a large part on the injustices of police brutality in America, Thomas takes it a step further by allowing readers to explore the internalized implications of racism and how it influences Starr’s behavior.

Her relationships with both family and friends are put to the test as Thomas explores the internal and external disruption of Starr’s life.

From code-switching to 90’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air references readers can bear witness to Starr truly come to shine as she grows to understand the power of using her voice for social justice.

Thomas’s work encompassed an overwhelming sense of realism as Starr was never truly alone on her journey of self-acceptance as supporting characters like her white boyfriend Chris, her parents, her half-brother Seven, and more play an adamant role in supporting Starr’s decisions through compassion and respect.

The title of the novel takes its name from the central philosophy of rapper Tupac Shakur who had a tattoo of the words “THUG LIFE” on his torso. The phrase served as an acronym to describe a person who began with nothing and built themselves up to be something.

For me, The Hate U Give represents a world of uncertainty and strength as Starr is faced with choices that could change her entire life in a blink of an eye.

While she was scared to face that world of certainty and decisions, Starr took steps towards self-belief and self-acceptance against the status quo to not only honor the life of Khalil but the lives of those who were still living under the threat of police brutality and discrimination. 

With a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University the young adult novel by Angie Thomas was an expansion of a short story Thomas wrote in college in response to the police shooting of Oscar Grant.


Due to the surmounting success and fan admiration of the novel Thomas recently released the prequel to the story in January of 2021 known as Concrete Rose.

The Hate U Give is a story of loss, love, and bravery in the face of many challenges. This New York Times bestselling novel turned acclaimed movie adaptation which featured Amandla Stenberg, is the novel for anyone looking to find their voice and embrace who they are to the fullest extent. 

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected].