‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas (Mature Upper KS3+)

Be aware that there is strong language, though it is completely within context and appropriate for the nature of the book.

A startling, important book about what is to be young and Black in America that will stay with you long after the final page. In an interview with Year 10 student Merin Kazi for the First Story Young Writers Festival, Angie Thomas explains her motivation for writing the novel (do watch it) and her expectation that few publishers would even consider a story which places the Black Lives Matter movement at its heart. Thankfully, it was published as THUG is enlightening about the movement and informative in its exploration of racial prejudice, injustice and hatred on an everyday basis across different races: it has genuinely opened up my eyes.

Despite deftly tackling hard-hitting issues, Thomas’ writing is empathetic, compelling, touching and in parts, very funny (there are many LOL moments). Her characters are witty, well-developed and really, really likeable. Starr has won a forever place in my heart as too, her life-loving brother Seven and the sagacious local store owner Mr. Wyatt, whom every community needs. The notion of community is particularly striking in the novel – Thomas draws, with nuance and sensitivity, a picture of a complex but tight-knit community where loyalty and respect prevail. Also striking are the relationships Starr has with her parents and siblings, their non-flinching openness and approach to discussion and debate as a family, their strength and resolve in adversity.

THUG is unlike any book I had read before in terms of contemporary, authentic Black voices and as a coming-of-age novel. It has paved the way to find and read more books written by contemporary Black authors.

Ms Harrison