Book Review And a Guest Post

Cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Image of a young Black girl holding a sign that has the title.

Currently I’m reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and it’s worthy of all the accolades it’s received. Told from the POV of a sixteen-year-old girl, the story explores racism and the aftermath of a police shooting of a Black teen, as well as so much more.


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. 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.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


This is a first-hand look at the experiences of people directly involved with the tragic killing of Black men and women by White police officers, and Ms. Thomas draws us into the story in a way that we can empathize with everyone involved. It’s one thing to read news reports about such events, but we don’t often get a real understanding of the issues challenging a poor black community.

Poverty that makes the temptation to get with a gang and make money selling drugs hard to resist.

Living in such a neighborhood that makes everyone a suspect in the eyes of police.

Fear of the gangs that makes a person just want to duck their head and pretend that everything is okay.

Living with the danger of drive-by shootings and other violence of the inner city.

As I read the story and shared with Starr the absolute horror of seeing her friend get shot, I could empathize, but only to a point. We, mostly White folks, who have never had to listen to The Talk, or see what Starr had to see, have no idea. Not really. Racism is so complicated, and the Black community experiences things we will just never know first-hand.

The push-pull between Starr’s wanting to speak out and fear of doing so, was so real. And I loved what her mother said at one point, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

At first I didn’t understand why the author chose to have Starr and her brothers go to a school in an affluent White neighborhood, but as the contrasts between her life and theirs came clearer and clearer, I got it. The cluelessness of one of her school friends about racism in the past and present, reflects the positions of so many people today who want to just erase the injustices and pretend they never happened. “We can just be friends.”

The characters are nicely drawn, and it was nice to hear distinct voices. Each spoke in a way that reflected their past and education, and Starr worked hard to leave her “ghetto” speak at home when she went to school. That contrast added another layer to the story, as does her relationship with a White boyfriend, Chris. During the aftermath from the killing of Starr’s friend, she and Chris have to explore their feelings for each other in a way they never had to before.

The Hate U Give isn’t always an easy read, but it it an important one. We as a society can’t ignore the facts of racism and how it affects so many people, and this book give us those facts in an engrossing story with a wonderful main character. I highly recommend it.


Photo of trees in silhouette against a pastel sky.

A few thoughts from my friend Slim Randles. Enjoy…

I think there must be autumnal reasons for Halloween being hued in orange and black. It’s a fun time, a magic evening if you’re a kid, and if you’re a grandpa-type guy, like me, who gets to hand out the goodies.

But the colors of this sweet evening celebration are orange and black, and so is October. In another week or so, our deciduous trees will stand like skeletons against the gray skies of winter, but now we have the orange and black of fall.

It happens right about sunset each day. The sky turns that eternal burnt-umber orange and the remaining leaves and the baring branches of our trees fill the evening with a holy filigree of contrast.

Oh, it’s not something we need to do anything about. There’s no need for picture taking or anything. But it’s just something that we can step outside for … look toward the west through the lacy pattern of black branches and for a moment, just a short moment, say to ourselves, “Isn’t that pretty?”

If the paint store could sell me something that looked even close to that for the walls of the little cabin I have, I’d buy a gallon. Maybe two.


For the best in outdoor and Western art, check out ART VINCENT

That’s all from me, folks. If you are celebrating Halloween tomorrow, I hope it is a fun-filled time. Kids don’t trick or treat in my neighborhood, so I will miss seeing all the great costumes and smiling faces.

Graphic with wordage: Happy Halloween. Has a ghost, a bat and a witches' hat.

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