Our book club pick for March is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Angie Thomas grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. When she was six, she was at the park when she was caught in a shootout between two drug dealers. The next day, her mother brought her to the library. This visit to the library proved to be an important one: it led her to pursue a writing career.
In 2009, she was a senior at Bellhaven University, also in Jackson, MS, when news spread of Oscar Grant. Grant, a 22-year-old unarmed black man, was shot in Oakland, California by police while he was handcuffed and lying face down. In years to come, the public would hear of similar killings of other young black men: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner, to name a few.
Angered and inspired by these events, Thomas began to write The Hate U Give, which follows 16-year-old Starr Carter after she witnesses a police officer shoot and kill her best friend Khalil. As Starr begins to realize the injustice within the justice system, she is drawn towards activism and joins the Black Lives Matter movement. This book may be categorized as YA, or Young Adult, fiction, but it is certainly also an important and timely read for those beyond that age group.
On writing for young adult readers: "I wanted to show them the world that may be around them, or the world that they might not know, and show all of the beauty of it and all of the flaws that exist. I didn't want to hold back because the fact of the matter is that life isn't going to hold back when it finally reveals itself. So I felt it was my job to be raw and to be honest."
What she hopes people will get from the book: "That empathy is more powerful than sympathy."
On the importance of having a voice: "It's scary sometimes, but the scariest part is not making yourself heard, it's correcting the people in your life you think you're closest to."