Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the-hate-u-giveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published by: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Date of Publication: January 28th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Own Voices, Diverse

Pages: 464

Format: eGalley (Edelweiss)

Rating:★★★★★ 5 Stars

*Thank you Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, Netgalley, and Angie Thomas for the eGalley of The Hate U Give in exchange for an honest review.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

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Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best-friend. Starr is introduced as a 16 year old living in a very poor & high in crime neighborhood. Her parents placed her in a school in the suburbs away from the neighborhood they live in & commute every day to provide Starr & her two siblings a safer environment to study as well as a better education. Starr pretty much lives two very different lives and prefers to keep them separate from each other. She has friends and a caucasian boyfriend who don’t really know much about her. Starr isn’t comfortable being herself around them, often changing how she speaks and adopting her friends likes/dislikes. This all changed the night that she attended a party with her friend and bumped into her childhood best friend Khalil. A friendship she had let go once she started going to a school outside of the neighborhood & carries some guilt for doing so. Khalil & Starr grew up together and he’s very protective of her. When the party turns violent it is Khalil who thinks fast to get Starr away from danger. It would be the last act of love he would carry out for Starr. The Hate U Give revolves around Khalil’s unjust death & serves as the catalyst for Starr. Along with the main plot line of Khalil’s death we get subplots that serve to present a better understanding of the fear, anger, frustration, sadness, helplessness, and yes the hate felt by people of color. Experiences in Starr’s neighborhood will leave her feeling shaken to her core. Her neighborhood is filled with tension after Khalil’s shooting by a Caucassian Police officer. The media digs deep & portrays Khalil in a negative light, focusing on the life they believe he led as a gang banger selling drugs. In the neighborhood, we see the control these gangs have over the residents. The saying “snitches get stitches” is more a code to live by for fear of retribution.

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Angie Thomas has given us in The Hate U Give some of the most fleshed out characters you’ll ever come across on the page. To say that I was invested in all of the characters is an understatement…they live within me & I will carry them in my heart for as long as time permits. Starting with Starr who although we see her struggling to keep her two worlds/identities apart, still stays true to herself in little ways. Starr has a passion for basketball & fresh kicks aka sneakers, and her family. She is someone who has experienced loss at a young age to the injustices of the world. We see her strength at a young age get her through what lies ahead. Starr’s parents have now joined my Parentals Hall Of Fame alongside the Weasley’s. They are firm and strict all the while loving & teaching their kids the ways of the world. I loved seeing mom & dad interact with Starr & her siblings as well as themselves. This couple has a ton of history, not all great but it’s history nonetheless. Mom & dad’s relationship has had its highs & lows like any other marriage, it’s far from perfect and I enjoyed how authentic their relationship played out on the pages. The sibling relationships were pretty special & their interactions often left me smiling. Starr has two brothers who she is very close with and I loved seeing them look out for each other. We also get introduced to Starr’s uncle who plays the role of a positive father figure & also happens to be a police officer. Starr’s uncle is also affected by the events of the night Khalil was shot & it was interesting to see him handle certain situations (1 of my fave characters). The Hate U Give has a ton of supporting characters giving us the readers many different perspectives. Ultimately they come together to form a narrative we’ve now become familiar with through real life media/news coverage.

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The dialogue in The Hate U Give has such an authentic feel to it which pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. At 464 pages, this never felt like a dense read even if the subject matter itself was profound. This book will lift the veil from your eyes if there is one there, it most certainly will make you feel uncomfortable as it should. We can’t learn if we are stuck in comfort. Many times while reading I felt my heart & mind heavy with thoughts of our future. After all, this book is heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement & is a story that we have unfortunately seen play out in the media in real life too many times. I believe this book to be relevant to our current day & one that should be read by all. I connected with this book on a more personal level & for that I will forever be thankful for Angie Thomas. See, I am married to an African American man and we have two beautiful children. Our son is brown skinned like his dad & our daughter is white skinned like myself. I remember being pregnant with my son, watching the news and fearing for my unborn child. Young African American teens were losing their lives in senseless shootings by police officers across the nation. The conversations I had with my husband on how we would raise our son always left me deep in thought afterwards. Is this really the world/life I’ve brought my son into? he is now two going on three & the shootings have continued with little to no justice for these young souls. It is my hope (like any other mothers) that his future is a somewhat better place for people of color. The Hate U Give at its core attempts to give the reader some insight on how it feels to be targeted over the color of your skin, the powerlessness that converts into hate, and the motivation behind activism & protests. A poignant read, The Hate U Give will impact many lives by the time the very last word is read.

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15049422Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay kristoff

Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: October 20th 2015

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Pages: 599

Format: Hardcover (I own)

Rating: ★★★★★

 So I just realized how descriptive the Goodreads synopsis really is LOL. I never read it until now but it pretty much sums it up all right, so instead I’ll talk about some of the things I loved about Illuminae (GR Synopsis @ the end of review).

* The fact that this book starts off with a break up scene. Could you honestly picture yourself breaking up with your boo one second & the next being caught up in a war between 2 major corporations over your small (yet oh so resourceful) planet? Usually, well at least in my experience, when you break up with someone it’s definitely to put some space & distance between you and said individual. Kady & Ezra however, found themselves running for their lives… Perspective plays a major role in how these two carry on afterwards.

* The fact that Kady is neither a damsel in distress nor a fighter experienced in hand-to-hand combat or even swordplay lol. No, Kady is a computer whiz who is in her element when handling 0’s & 1’s. After the attack on Kerenza (their planet) the people of Kerenza were shuttled to 3 different aircrafts (spaceships): The Alexander, Copernicus, or the Hypathia. Each ship has its strengths, with Alexander basically being their leader. Depending on your skillset, you would be assigned jobs on your designated spaceship. Kady had access to computer systems & she used this to set forth and uncover the truth behind the attack on Kerenza.

* The dialogue. The entire book is formatted in a series of e-mails, Briefs, and chats. Through these quick bursts in communication you get to familiarize yourself with the characters aboard these ships. In a time where nothing is certain, people are being fed lies, and a virus has broken loose, our characters are much in touch with their sense of humor. I had many laugh out loud moments at some of the crudest jokes between Ezra & his boys which we can safely compare to military boys lol. Kady is sarcastic & just an overall kickass female protagonist. The Lisbeth Salander (who I loved, so yay!) Of YA without the whole Emo thing Lisbeth had going on lol.

*AIDAN aka the Artificial Intelligence. I think I hated him for half of the book but then came to like him during the second half. It was definitely interesting reading his thought process, which sometimes came off as ramblings.

*Zhang. I really liked Zhang & his chats (the equivalent of IM’s) with Kady & how well they worked together. Their conversations were very entertaining even when it was strictly hacking that they were doing.

* The representation of different ethnic backgrounds & LGBTQ. I loved the diversity in this book & was thankful because it was a realistic depiction of a ship carrying thousands of human beings.

* Last but never least, the women in command positions. There were a few actually, and I appreciated the presence of women in a military style environment, not being pushed into lesser roles.

I could seriously talk about this book for hours but It turns out I’m not the last human being on this planet to not have read this book lol. I tried to keep all spoilers out for those who plan on reading Illuminae before this fall’s release of Gemina. Now that day, I will make sure to use a sick day on *coughs into the future*

Goodreads Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

 

 

 

Review Me Before You By Jojo Moyes

Me Before You
Series: Me Before You #1
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Date of Publication: December 31st 2012 (first published January 5th 2012)
Genres: Contemporary-lit, Romance
Pages: 369
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars (previously 4.5 stars because REASONS lol)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

 

My Good Reads Mini-Review AKA 1st Thoughts:

4.5✨ I’m a bit conflicted with Me Before You, I gave it 4.5 stars because I am still very attached to the characters. Lou is now one of my fave female protagonists, she embraced her individuality like none other. I loved the witty banter between Lou & Will. Then there was the elephant in the room, often times I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’m still unsure where I stand on the topic of Euthanasia or assisted suicide. Overall I didn’t take this as a romance, it felt more like a story of friendship, hope, and human rights.

******SPOILERY******

After Thoughts (slept on this for a couple of nights):

I’ve come to the realization that if a book can linger in my head days after I’ve finished it, leaving me questioning my own beliefs…said book was pretty darn GOOD! This was a contemporary romance that tackled the very real topic of Euthanasia & or assisted suicide very well. Each of the characters that loved Will Traynor (Our male protagonist) had their own ideals/beliefs on quality of life however, I appreciate the respect he was given by those closest to him. Will Traynor was introduced as a young & attractive guy on the fast track to success. The type of guy to close deals, wing big, and always get his way in the board room and in the bedroom. The guy who has a type…. tall, blonde, fun, & easy. His whole life was turned upside down by a motorcyclist, leaving him as a quadriplegic in need of around the clock care. After receiving physical therapy to alleviate the pain associated with muscle atrophy & a non-reversible diagnosis, Will decided to end his life through Dignitas

***PAUSE***

Google Search–> I had no idea this organization actually exists in Switzerland! On their web page in their About page it reads: “DIGNITAS—To Live with dignity–to die with dignity” this is where I put the book down, went to bed, and seriously tried to place myself in that situation. I tried seeing it from the perspective of a mother as well as the disabled and couldn’t resolve where I stood. I decided to remain undecided & continued reading…

Will’s mother asks that he re-consider and he makes a deal with his parents to give them 6 months. As a mom I can see how this must have been a desperate time to try & find anything that would change my sons mind. Enter Louisa Cark AKA Lou AKA Busy Bee, hired to be a companion for Will who had pretty much become a recluse.

I LOVED Lou from the start! Her odd or rather quirky fashion sense, selflessness, and subtle wit has made her a new favorite of mine. When she created her username Busy Bee to talk to an online community of people with the same or similar disability, she stole my heart! Lou was determined to reignite Will’s desire to live. In the process she developed some complex feelings for him made even more messier by the fact that she was already in a relationship. I can’t even remember his name that’s how much I disliked him so for all intents & purposes, let’s call him “Whatshisface” 🙄 I lost track of how many times Whatshisface talked about himself, his body, and his track time. Lou’s interactions with Whatshisface solely provided me with comic relief & tons of eye rolls. Lou’s self worth however, was very low. A result of what is insinuated to have been her being raped by a couple of guys she knew, while intoxicated. This also played into Lou’s sense of fashion. She figured that if she dressed weird or un-provocative, she wouldn’t warrant the attention of men.

Will- Although he found himself developing feelings for Lou, it never went past that. Lou goes about finding places for Will to vacation in & activities for quadriplegics on a 6mth deadline. The fact that Will managed to find enjoyment in watching Lou experience so many firsts and pushed her to LIVE was heartwarming. There was clearly chemistry between the two but there was also friendship. It was difficult at times seeing Lou go so hard (race track scene) to show Will that he could still enjoy some of the things he used to before his accident. Even harder were the final pages…time was up…Will had not changed his mind & instead asked for Lou to be by his side during his final moments. When Lou finally realized that ultimately this was Will’s decision & Will’s life, I felt like a weight was lifted off MY shoulders (yea I was that stressed lol).

MY dad, before he passed away, told me that death was hardest on the loved ones & NOT the person passing. I always wondered if this were true…for me, it was. The reason I loved this book & now it’s finale (I had to sleep on it) is that Will prepared Lou (and his mother) for his passing. He made the tough decision to end his life & by doing so, reclaims his life. He showed compassion & understanding for those affected by his decision til the very end. In the epilogue, we get the sense that some time has passed, Lou is in France in Will’s favorite cafe reading his letter while eating croissants & drinking coffee as per Will’s expert recommendation…I call this closure.

After much thought, I may not be so undecided anymore on the topic of Euthanasia & assisted suicide. This book led me to do some research of my own & for that alone I have changed my star rating. 

 

Currently Reading

Thursday night & I’m home reading Me Before You while watching people tweet about the premiere of the movie tonight. I plan on watching it some time this wknd once I finish this book which admittedly I’ve been taking my time with. The subject matter is heavy for your average person but I’m “tender hearted” when it comes to others pain and suffering. I had to stop & Google “Dignitas” hoping it wasn’t a real thing, much to my surprise, it is. I’m not sure where I stand on the subject of Euthanasia, I find myself torn like Lou. I’ve gone back & forth in my head trying to play devils advocate but ultimately decided to remain undecided. Me Before You is a Contemporary Romance but JoJo Moyes has not put the romance on the forefront & I can appreciate that. As I’m reading, I’m genuinely feeling the frustration on Will’s behalf as a quadriplegic & Lou’s as a companion/care-taker. The humiliation Will endures when he does decide to venture outdoors often made me feel anger at the world. I’m quietly rooting for Lou to accomplish her goal in the next 72 days… This story will stay on my heart shelf for a long time to come…