The Hate You Give

REVIEW: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Summary


Starr feels like two different people at times. There’s the person she is at home and in her neighborhood. That’s the most genuine version. Then there’s the person she is at her mostly-white, suburban school. There she works to always speak in full sentences and complete words – no slang, always “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir.” She reigns in her feelings so she can’t be accused of ever being too angry or having too much attitude.

One night at a party in her neighborhood, shots ring out. Starr’s childhood friend, Khalil, gets her safely away from the violence and the party. But on their way home, they get pulled over by a police officer. The officer is belligerent about pulling them over; Khalil is indignant. After the officer pulls Khalil out of the car to pat him down (three times) and goes to run his license, Khalil comes back to the car to check on Starr. Three shots are fired. Khalil dies in the street in Starr’s arms.

Suddenly everything in Starr’s life changes. She questions her relationships and her two personalities. She watches as her two worlds respond to the shooting, and she wonders what, if anything, she can do for Khalil, for his family, and for her community.

Review


Wow, this was so good. It was challenging, too. It challenged me to examine my biases and assumptions. There were cultural pieces and slang that I didn’t understand (not enough to impact my understanding of the story as a whole). And the topic itself – white officer kills unarmed black teen – is timely and difficult. But so important to think about and talk about.

I loved Starr. She’s not perfect. Her friends and boyfriend challenge her choices in the midst of her double life at home and school as well as the situation with Khalil. But she’s honest. She’s 16 and wrestling with big questions about home and identity. She wonders what her responsibility is to herself, her family, and her neighborhood. And there are no easy answers.

This is terrific food for thought – and discussion. If you are looking to add some diversity to your reading life or your high school classroom library, try this book. (language, violence)

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

The Good, the Bad and the Guardians

REVIEW: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Summary


A fascinating look at racial identity development. Looks at a multitude of races – Black, White, Asian, Native American, Hispanic and Biracial identity.  There’s also discussion of the racial identity of Black children adopted by White parents. Examines the need for same race peer groups and mentors as well as looking at race at each age and developmental stage. This is a thorough examination of racial identity formation.

 

Review


The title of this book first caught my attention several years ago. As an elementary school teacher, I noticed this phenomenon with our older students but not usually the younger ones, and I did wonder what that was about. I wish I had read this book at the time because it would have enlightened me and changed my attitude about my observations.

This was fascinating and challenging reading. I loved the psychological aspect of this discussion of race. I had set a goal to read a book about race this year. This one was a perfect fit for me with the psychological pieces and the educational angle.

I think this is a great resource for a lot of people – teachers, school administrators, parents, professionals who work with kids, and anyone interested in improved relationships between people of different races.

The developmental pieces – how kids process race as preschoolers versus adolescents – are fascinating. And the book challenges the idea that it’s best to not mention race to kids so they won’t notice it. They already notice it! Our silence doesn’t help them process their observations in a healthy, and accepting way.

This book challenged me. It challenged my assumptions. I read things and felt myself start to get defensive. I was reading things slowly enough, though, that I noticed it and could stop and check myself and look at what preconceived notions were being challenged. This is not a book to be read quickly if you are reading it to learn and to grow in your own racial identity and in your understanding of the racial identity development of others. It’s also a very dense book. I don’t know that you could read it quickly and get much out of it. This is a book to be studied rather that a quick cover-to-cover kind of read.

I highly recommend this. This would be a terrific resource for teachers to read and discuss together. It would also be a great summer read for teachers doing professional development. There’s an extensive resource list and notes in the back matter that offer more information and other resources to investigate.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥