So good. It’s a young adult novel, but there was such buzz and hype around it that I knew I had to read it.
At a time when the “Black Lives Matter” movement has hit its stride, and protests are popping up all over the place to deal with our ridiculous president, this book hit at the perfect time.
When the young narrator of the book, Starr (16) seems to be stuck between two worlds. She grows up in what would be considered the “rough” part of town, but attends a hoity-toity private school (read: white) and keeps the two worlds separate as much as possible. The two worlds collide one night when her friend Khalil offers to drive her home from a party. He was her best friend for years, and though they drifted apart, they still cared about each other. She takes him up on the offer and on their way home, the police pull them over. They aren’t sure why, but Starr remembers what her parents taught her and her brothers about dealing with the police. Khalil asks why he was pulled over, tried to get the cop to answer him. The cop escalates the situation and pulls Khalil out of the car. Starr is understandably upset and Khalil turns back around to ask if she’s okay. As soon as he does that, the cop starts shooting.
He dies on the street with Starr looking on and the cops leaving the body uncovered in the street. As the public has seen in the past few years, rumors and innuendo start flying. He was a thug, a drug dealer, a bad kid, etc. Starr is stuck trying to forget that night, but desperately wanting to clear his name. Like all teenagers, she’s conflicted. She learns how her white friends perceive her, how her minority friends understand her, and the disconnect between her family.
The book doesn’t put blame on all cops or all people in the neighborhood. Starr’s Uncle is also a cop and has to deal with both family and his “brothers in blue.” It’s alarming how much this story reflects the current climate today. Like in all jobs, there are good workers and bad workers. Cops are no exception. Kids are no exception. Parents are no exception.
The title of the book comes from a Tupac song. And I’m not going to lie….I just realized that the acronym for the book was “THUG”. Amazing.
The layers in the story are amazing, and as someone who doesn’t live in either of the neighborhoods, it was good to get insight into a life I can’t imagine. If more people read books like this, maybe things wouldn’t be so divisive.