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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 21 January 2019

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

American black teenager Starr lives in the inner city where drive-by shootings, gang warfare and drug-dealing is rife but goes to a posh school in the suburbs. She is the only witness when her oldest friend Khalil is shot by the police. Should she speak up when raising one's head above the parapet might put her and her family in danger?

The structure of this book is unusual. There are many classic elements. For example, Starr's relationship with her rich white boyfriend is disrupted by the polarisation of her community into black and white. Normally classic plot points such as this are not resolved, one way or the other, until the very end of the book. But in this story there are a number of resolutions by the end of part one which is about two-thirds of the way through the book. This does introduce a degree of tension as one realises that this story is straying from convention and that therefore what might happen in the remaining third of the book might surprise.

The book is also enlivened by the entangled relationships between the members of the black community. Starr's father went to jail for the local drug baron with whose wife he had previously had a child, Starr's half-brother Seven. Starr's father is now a reformed character, a Christian and local store owner whilst still being a militant Black Panther, and there is tension between him and his son's stepfather. Starr's mother's brother, who acted as surrogate father for Starr whilst her real father was in jail, is a cop. This enables the author to extract maximum conflict from relatively few characters.

There are a couple of moments when it gets a bit preachy. Daddy puts Starr through a catechism in Chapter 10 to investigate the reasons for drug dealing in black neighbourhoods. Hailey seems to be a character developed so that the author can develop arguments about racism. But if Victor Hugo can spend page after page of Les Miserables lecturing about the Battle of Waterloo, or the iniquity of monasticism, I guess any author is entitled to disrupt their story with a page or two of preaching.

But the real beauty of this book is the freshness of the prose:
  • “There are just some places where it's not enough to be me. Either version of me.” (C 1)
  • “Guys in their freshest kicks and sagging pants grind so close to girls they just about need condoms.” (C 1)
  • “Spring in Garden Heights doesn't always bring love, but it promises babies in the winter.” (C 1)
  • “He always has ]the party] on the Friday of spring break because you need Saturday to recover and Sunday to repent.” (C 1)
  • “She's the perfect height for modelling ... but a little thicker than those toothpicks on the runway.” (C 1)
  • “Hoedom is universal.” (C 1)
  • “that's more difficult than buying retro Jordans on release day.” (C 1)
  • “He wipes his nose like he always does before a lie.” (C 1)
  • “He couldn't carry a tune if it came in a box.” (C 3)
  • “How could he sell the very stuff that took his momma from him? Did he realise that he was taking someone somebody else's momma from them?” (C 4)
  • “Did he realise that if he does become a hashtag, some people will only see him as a drug dealer?” (C 4)
  • “Khalil matters to us, not the stuff he did. Forget everybody else.” (C 4)
  • “Good-byes hurt the most when the other person’s already gone.” (C 4)
  • “I left his house pissed and horny, the absolute worst way to leave.” (C 5)
  • “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. They key is to never stop doing right.” (C 9)
  • “If babies can count as humans when they’re little, veggies can count as veggies when they’re little.” (C 12)
  • “Brave peoples’ legs don’t shake. Brave people don’t feel like puking. Brave people sure don’t have to remind themselves how to breathe ... If bravery is a medical condition, everybody’s misdiagnosed me.” (C 16)
  • "I didn't know a dead person could be charged in his own murder" (C 16)

A very enjoyable read.

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