We have a guest post from my student Alyssa T.!
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
When I first heard about this book, I was very hesitant to read it. I have a hard time reading about heavily charged topics like racism and police brutality, but this book attacked it in a graceful and respectful way that it much easier to read. Angie Thomas has a way of writing about something that is unthinkable and making it much easier to understand. When I was reading this book, it reminded me of Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. In both stories, the element of the importance of friendships is obvious and is what the stories revolve around. As Starr searches for her voice to fight for her best friend, I can relate it to the quest Emily goes on to find Sloan. This book also reminded me of Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry. Calliope has to find her voice to get through her Tourette’s syndrome and struggles with friends, just as Starr does after she loses Khalil. Their struggles make them stronger, and at the end of each book, you find totally new and changed characters.
When you dig into this story and learn more about the reality of racism and how it affects all different minorities in different ways. It sickened me to realize how much I really did not know about the things people have to face that I do not. It made me so much more thankful for everything I have and brought light to a topic that I never understood. As many people say, the truth hurts, and I found that out when I read this novel. It was a beautifully written piece about a sickening incident that I hope brings the same light to racism to other readers as it did me. I would absolutely recommend that everyone reads this book at some point in their life, I have to agree with John Green’s review that it is truly stunning.