I’ve had my eye on this book for quite a while–ever since I realized that the movie by the same name was created for a novel (I’m always pining for any novel that becomes a movie). And mainly because it’s so (tragically) relevant to current events in our country. I told myself I wouldn’t see the movie until I read the book so I’m happy to report that I can now FINALLY watch the movie! I plan to knock that out this week. Despite it’s relevance, this isn’t my typical read. While it’s fiction, it’s very *real*, and I’m more of a fantasy/YA sorta gal…or something with some mystery or even historical fiction. So this novel was a bit out of my scope but I had to read it, again, because it’s just so relevant. For a debut novel, it’s not bad. I really enjoyed it and I love that fact that Angie Thomas doesn’t sugar coat the events nor downplay them in any way. She does the story line complete justice and it’s relatable and real and honest.
Starr Carter is young black girl living in the inner city with her family where they own a small convenience store. But she goes to school across town, where neighborhoods are gated and all the kids at school are white. She is torn between two very different worlds and trying to figure out how she fits into both of them. Back at home, she attends a party with one of her friends from home. An old friend, Khalil, is there–they grew up together but now lead very different lives. After gunfire erupts and abruptly breaks up the party, Starr is led away from the scene by Khalil and they’re pulled over by a white cop on their way back home. What should be a routine traffic stop (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…) ends in the death of a young, unarmed black boy. Because Starr witnessed the incident (murder), she becomes faced with a situation where her two very separate worlds are forced to collide. She must choose if she is going to use her voice as weapon and speak up for her friend who can no longer speak for himself as the media slanders his name and character. Can she risk showing her white friends, her black side? Will she have the courage to testify in court? Will anyone remember Khalil? That he lived? That his life mattered?
I hate that fiction novels like this one, can also easily pass for non-fiction. As someone who is half black, living in a city where a pretty high-profile case like this one occurred recently, it was hands down a must-read for me. For the subject matter and the way that it’s written, I think it’s a great book. I personally would not give it 5 stars simply because of all the types of books I really enjoy, this one is just outside that umbrella. But that in no way is saying that it’s not great or deserving of 5 stars from someone who most enjoys this sort of fiction. For me, it’s 4 stars. I would still recommend this book for the content or just for anyone looking for a book on this subject matter. I’ll come back and update this review once I watch the movie. I’m still betting that the book is better than the movie because that is almost always the case.
This book has won several awards: the Coretta Scott King Award for best novel by an African American author for children, the Michael L. Printz Award for best novel for teens and was recognized by the American Library Association with the William C. Morris Award. To say it’s a note-worthy novel would be an understatement.