When I took a “Writing the YA Novel” class in 2019, I knew it would entail reading YA novels. I recognized and had read some of them before, such as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and John Green’s Looking for Alaska. One of the books, however, was one I’d vaguely heard of but had never read—Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give.
I’ll try not to spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it yet. The main character of the novel, Starr Carter, is a 16-year-old Black girl from a poor, Black neighborhood who attends an elite private school mostly attended by wealthy white people. Early on, she witnesses a police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend—also a Black person—and she must decide whether or not to speak up about what she saw and deal with the social issues that would spring from it.
Reading this book as a relatively-privileged white woman was an emotional experience for me. More than any of the other horrors done to Black people I’d witnessed up until that point, it showed me in vivid detail just how wrong our society is. It helped me understand the fear and outrage Black people feel every day. Reading it, I felt their intense fear and anger.
That’s why I’m so grateful for this book. Things didn’t magically get better once it came out, or even when the movie adaptation was released. But media like this is what our society needs to see. It’s what the next generation needs to experience in order to continue working toward our goal of making things better. We still have a long way to go, but we’re working to educate the people that will take power when we’re gone, and hopefully, we will have shown them how important each and every person is in this world. Hopefully, everyone will finally be treated equally.