What started out as a short story for her senior project, New York Times Bestseller “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas has received abundant attention since its release in February. The novel is told through the perspective of a young teen, Starr Carter, who faces the harsh reality of what it is like to live in America as an African American.
The story takes place in the “ghetto” Garden Heights, where Starr is surrounded by gang violence, few educational and advancement opportunities, and many more forces against her and her community. In the very beginning Starr comes face to face with the one thing that is feared throughout her neighborhood. She witnesses the traumatic death of a close friend, due to a police shooting incident.
Ever since that night, Starr’s life begins to fall towards rock bottom. Attempting to juggle living in Garden Heights, a poor African American community, and attending a predominantly white private school an hour away from home, is an obstacle. The book centers around her difficulties with being black in her neighborhood and not being “too black” at school.
Starr finds it very difficult to speak out about the shooting to anyone, especially her white friends whom she believes would not understand. Instead of feeling as if the world is against and coming down on her, she must worry about two separate worlds against her. The novel overall, captures some of the many obstacles African Americans face living in a society built to bring them down.
English teacher Shayna Arhanian is teaching the novel in her English 12 Diversity in America class. This class is part of a new options for English 12 offered to seniors.
“I think that the book is already impacting our ability to change racial issues. I know that I am more aware of what’s going on, and how my actions and the things I say, can affect others. Without delving into politics, it’s crazy how the current news headlines are essentially feeding me material for this class. It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to talk about things as they are happening. It’s a unique time in history, that is certain,” Arhanian said.
The film adaptation is now in the process of being created. The release date has yet to be determined, but for now be sure to grab a copy in your local library or bookstore and see what the intensive publicity is all about.