The Hate U Give and Other Diverse Reads

September 29, 2017
***updated April 15, 2020

The Hate U Give (THUG) and Other Diverse Reads

Today I’m offering a challenge for some of us to read outside our comfort zones. Does reading from a different point of view appeal to you? Do you wish you could include more diversity in your reading life? Would reading fiction that mirrors what you sometimes see on the nightly news interest you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I urge you to consider reading The Hate U Give. All books reviewed and recommended in this post focus on the theme of diversity, especially from the African-American perspective.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Hate U Give (THUG) by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (cover) Image: an African American girl holdinga large white poster with the book title

Genre/categories: YA fiction, racism, prejudice, social and family issues


Our sixteen-year-old main character, Starr, lives in a poor inner-city neighborhood and her mother drives her to an upper-middle-class private school miles across town for her education. Starr’s parents can afford to move out of the poorer neighborhood, but her dad, a former gang member and convict, believes it’s important to stay in the neighborhood to help solve the problems there and to be a role model and support for the young African-American males who desire to leave the gang life and pursue better options. Starr’s mother would like to move across town to the middle class more diverse neighborhood where Starr and her siblings attend a (predominately white) private school and where the family attends a “diverse” church “(she nicknames it “the diverse church). Starr manages to live between her two worlds of the Williamson private school crowd and her neighborhood friends. This causes her some stress because she feels she can’t totally be herself in either place. One night Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend by a police officer. The officer-involved shooting and her friend’s death make national headlines. Starr is faced with opinions and actions from both sides. Some reporters and private school friends say that the victim was a thug and perhaps a gang member and drug dealer and deserved to die. Friends in the neighborhood, including Starr who really knew the victim, defend him. As Starr faces her role as a witness, interrogation by the DA, involvement in protests, and publicity, she and her family also endure intimidation by the local drug lord (because if she testifies, she might incriminate him). Starr summons up all her courage so that her testimony and answers are honest and truthful to the best of her ability. What she says could endanger her life and cause further protests in the community. How will she use her voice? Amazon rating (September): 4.8

My Thoughts:

This is a challenging review to write as THUG is full of controversial and complex issues that require careful thought and, combined with the circumstances (and profanity), it can be a difficult read. Also, even though I enjoyed the book and was challenged by it, I had to think seriously about recommending it.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely YES!

In bullet format, you will discover the reasons I’m recommending this book (in no particular order):

  • THUG contains likable, memorable, and multidimensional characters. Starr’s parents’ relationship is especially encouraging and inspiring.
  • This is an unforgettable, fast-paced, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, inspiring, tragic, and unputdownable story told from authentic voices.
  • I think it’s important to challenge ourselves to read diverse literature and to listen well.
  • The issues in this book occasionally appear in our nightly news.
  • Experiencing a situation from the perspective of others that are different from us and hearing their voices informs our opinions and deepens our understanding.
  • It gave me a new perspective on the allure of gangs.
  • The story presented an interesting dilemma (as presented by Starr’s father and mother): should African Americans leave their inner-city neighborhood if they have that option or should they stay (and risk the consequences) to help their communities?
  • I thought the author did an exceptional job of helping the reader understand code-switching. I was challenged with accepting Starr just as she was and wondered if I would have tried to change her if she were a part of my community. Particularly, I wondered as a teacher how accepting I was of African Americans (or my other students from other cultures) who brought their unique cultural expressions into my classroom. How much code-switching did my students feel was necessary? Did I try to change them to fit my (white middle class) idea of an ideal student? Or did I promote acceptance in my classroom and among their peers for them to be their authentic selves (hairstyle, clothing, expressions, etc.)? In Starr’s own words, code-switching is exhausting and she was an expert.

“I should be used to my two worlds colliding, but I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang. Some attitude but not too much attitude, so I’m not a sassy black girl. I have to watch what I say and how I say it. But I can’t sound “white.” Sh*@# is exhausting.”  ~Starr

  • The Hate U Give contains important and hard-hitting themes such as the responsibility to our neighborhood, bravery, finding our voice, loyalty, racism, violence, poverty, helplessness, privilege, family values, anger, and hate.
  • I think from news reports of similar situations we often are not getting the true stories from both sides. Although this story was told from Starr’s first-person point of view, I thought both sides were represented. In particular, Starr has a white boyfriend and it was interesting to have his interactions and perceptions as an integral part of the story.
  • I thought religion was presented sincerely and authentically in this story and included as ordinary, natural, and meaningful in the life of the family and community. This was refreshing because often an author’s bias against religion is apparent.
  • In the story, there is an incident of a mild and offhand racist comment made to a Chinese girl, Maya. As a result, she was more sympathetic to Starr’s situation because she had been a victim of a thoughtless racist comment. This illustrated to me that if we’ve never experienced racist comments personally, maybe reading about it happening to a beloved character can build empathy, understanding, and awareness. Starr’s reflection that came from that experience caused me to think about all the times I’ve heard something and said nothing:

“We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” ~ Starr

  • THUG is categorized as YA and I think it’s an important read for mature young adults and adults of any age. It opens the door to many important discussions and hard thinking about relevant topics. I think diverse literature is a great way to build compassion, understanding, and empathy for others.
  • There will be ideas you disagree with in this book and content that’s uncomfortable and that’s ok! I still think they are ideas with which we need to wrestle. If the language doesn’t offend you, I think this would be an excellent selection for your book club. Perhaps the intent of the book is to start discussions.
  • No matter how you feel about the Black Lives Matter movement, this book remains a worthwhile read. It’s important to hear from the African-American community in their own voices. #dontletthestrugglersbecomeahashtag
  • Finally, don’t most of us want to read the book before the movie?!
    The Hate U Give movie trailer.
    The Hate U Give Movie.

*Alert: language (profanity), racial tension

Recommended: I can highly recommend this for mature young adults and for all adult readers as a discussion starter, a diverse literature pick (for many of us), and a book with contemporary and relevant topics.

My Rating: 5 Stars


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (cover) Image: African American girl holding a large sign with the book's title

The Hate U Give Information Here

***This post is linked up with Puppies and Pretties.

Meet the Author, Angie Thomas

Author, Angie Thomas (head shot, dressed in a yellow cardigan and leaning against a wall)

Angie 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 Myers 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. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

Flight Picks:

Following is a sampling of other diverse literature with a focus on racism that I’ve read and highly recommend. If I have reviewed it here on the blog, I’ve included the link. I’ve also included the Amazon link for additional information.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover)

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

My Review Here

More Information Here (and a young reader’s version here)

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (cover)

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction (5+ Stars)

A young Nigerian girl fights for education and the right to be heard.

My Review Here

More Information Here

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer by Ta Nehisi Coates cover

Genre: Historical Fiction (4 Stars)

Slavery and the Underground Railroad.

My Review Here

More Information Here

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Lathan (two portraits of a boy and a girl in sepia tones)

Genre: YA historical fiction (5 Stars)

My Review Here.

More Information Here

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things cover (multi colored squares frame the top and bottom of the cover)

Genre: Adult Fiction (4 Stars)

My Review Here.

More Information Here

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

The Gilded Years cover (purple background with white wording and a white image of a university style building)

Genre: Women’s Historical Fiction (4 Stars)

The first African-American woman to attend Vassar (passing as white).

My Review Here

More Information Here

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi cover (yellow background with red and blue and black designs)

Genre: Historical Fiction (5 Stars)

Multi-generational saga tracing the impact of slavery for 2 sisters and their families from Ghana to America over 300+ years.

More Information Here

Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
(author of Secret Life of Bees)

The Intention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (cover) (white lettering over a goldish redish sky background) featuring a few small flying birds)

Genre: Historical Fiction (5 Stars)

An unputdownable story of the Grimké sisters (Sarah and Angelina) and their slave, Hetty, as the sisters wrestle with the ideas of slavery and join the early abolitionist and women’s rights movements in the North. One of my favorite reads of recent years and a great book club selection.

More Information Here

The Kitchen House and
Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House
by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House

Glory Over Everything

Genre: Historical Fiction (both 5 Stars)

In The Kitchen House, a 7-year-old orphan from Ireland is placed with the slaves on a southern plantation. They become her family and she is raised in the slave culture. This gives her a unique perspective and voice. Glory Over Everything is a sequel of sorts (but it can be read as a stand-alone) and it follows the life of her nephew (from her black adopted sister) as he leaves the South and passes for white.

More Information Here and Here

Stella by Starlight
by Sharon M. Draper

Stella by Starlight cover (two young African American girls watching a cross burn)

Genre: Middle School historical fiction (4 Stars)

If you’re looking for a diverse and historical fiction selection for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12), I recommend this poignant story of Stella’s experiences with racism and finding her own voice.

More Information Here

The Warmth of Other Suns
by Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns cover (black and white background picture of people sitting outside their apartment buiolding on balconies and the front porch))

Genre: Narrative Nonfiction (5 Stars)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson shares the stories of three individuals representing the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South from 1917 to 1970 for northern and western cities in search of a better life. This is known as the Great Migration. My husband was a history major and thoroughly enjoyed this story.

More Information Here

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (cover)

My Review Here

More Information Here


I hope you have found this recommendation list of diverse reads useful and have found a new title to add to your TBR! In the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughtful and respectful reflections on The Hate U Give or any of the other selections. I’m always eager to hear about what you’re reading and your thoughts about diversity in your reading life! Did you add a new book to your TBR list?


Those of you who have read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, might enjoy this excellent review I stumbled upon this week: Read Review Here.

Do you like polls? Book Nerd Poll just for fun!

One last recommendation! I thought Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood by Lisa Damour sounded really good for parents or guardians or mentors/teachers of teenage girls!

Untangled by Lisa Damour (cover) headshot of a teenage girl above the heading and subjeading

Untangled Information Here.

Happy Reading Everyone!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’m looking forward to reviewing Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray). In two weeks, I’ll review Little Fires Everywhere, the new release by Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You).

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image of a yellow camisole hanging from a padded hanger above a suitcase

Out of the Easy Information Here

Little Fires Everywhere by Celest Ng (cover) Image: white lettering over an arial vew of a nice neighborhood

Little Fires Everywhere Information Here

Let’s Get Social!

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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. It sure is good to get “outta our box” and read something different–I will read All the Hate U Give. This is a wonderful site, dear one!

  2. Saw your link and came over from the Diverse Book clubs (Good reads group). I loved how you captured the essence of The Hate U Give in bullet points. I agree, even though it’s classified as YA, I think it’s an important one to read!

  3. This is a book that I likely wouldn’t pick up on my own. But I’ve heard some really great reviews on it so I’m definitely considering picking it up soon.

    • Thanks for commenting Alison! Also, thanks for the link up opportunity! I agree that THUG is not one I would pick up on my own either, but I was challenged to read it through Diverse Books Club on Goodreads and I’d also read several reviews and wanted to find out for myself! I’d love to hear your reflections when you read it!

  4. […] Issues: On The Come Up is an issue centered YA book and Angie Thomas doesn’t pull punches. As a white woman of privilege having no experience with rap culture, with racism, or living in a Garden Heights neighborhood, I want to listen and learn from the stories that Angie Thomas shares. Some of this story has a basis in her own childhood in Jackson, Mississippi. Listen to the NPR It’s Been a Minute Podcast with Angie Thomas to hear her speak about her writing and the target audience.  Some of the same issues are addressed in both On The Come Up and The Hate You Give. While the focus of On the Come Up is on rap culture and a rising star, the focus of The Hate You Give is on the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager. Here’s the link to my review post of The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. […]

  5. Oh this is such a lovely review, Carol, and I love the bullet format so much! THUG was such a hard hitting, important, amazing read, I loved it so, so much as well. And I love that you included recommendations, thank you so much! I’ve been hearing great things about Jacqueline Woodson’s books, I’ll have to check them out 🙂

    • Thanks Davida! It’s a challenging read for sure. I liked it better than I thought I would and appreciated the glimpse into another life by an own voices author.

  6. Carol, as always you do an outstanding review, I’ve followed you for a year or so now and look forward to reading your posts. I haven’t read this book but it is on my TBR and someday I’ll get to it.

    • Oh thank you soooo much for the kind words and for following so loyally! I appreciate your feedback more than you can imagine Gayla!

  7. […] One of my reading goals is to read more diversely and promote “own voices” authors. Often this goal forces me out of my comfort zone. Because I knew it would be a difficult read (based on the title), I procrastinated a long time before I picked up The Hate U Give. It far exceeded my expectations and is a memorable and thought-provoking read. My review of THUG is here. […]

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