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Book Review: The Hate U Give


The Hate U Give is more than the title of Angie Thomas’s 2017 book, it is also a powerful term with meaningful intentions behind it. T-H-U-G L-I-F-E is the term we are talking about, it is used with pride to describe someone who has come from nothing and built themselves up to become something more than where they started. The term is best described by Angie Thomas’s character, in The Hate U Give, Khalil, he states “The Hate U – the letter U – Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody. T-H-U-G L-I-F-E. Meaning what society give us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out” (Thomas 17). This acronym shows up throughout the book and is the main focus of the novel, it explains to us the idea behind Angie Thomas’s intentions for this book and in turn gives this book a more powerful meaning to everyone who reads it. This book is about Us, about anyone and everyone who has been through the struggles these characters are going through and will continue to go through. The Hate U Give others affects not only them but their whole family, their friends, and their community. This concept is shown through this novel which follows a young black girl, Starr, as she overcomes her best friend’s death, faces almost impossible situations, and deal with the hate she and her community is given.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


This is about Us!

T-H-U-G L-I-F-E could be seen as just another name to another rap song, but to Tupac it meant more than just rapping, being cool, and living life. Tupac stated that T-H-U-G L-I-F-E is an acronym for The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody. This idea not only surrounds Angie Thomas’s novel, The Hate U Give, but it also surrounds Starr Carter’s Life. Starr learns about this acronym while driving home from a party with her childhood best friend, Kahlil. Kahili explains it to her and she thinks nothing of it at first but her whole view on the idea changes after Kahlil, is killed that night, in front of her, by a police officer who thought Kahlil had a gun. To Starr, Kahili was her best friend, a good kid, a guy who would protect her, someone who had his family’s back through everything, but to the cops he was a drug dealer, a gangbanger, a lowlife, a criminal. At first Starr didn’t want to be a witness or be in the spotlight sharing his story, but that changes because she realizes T-H-U-G L-I-F-E is her life, her family’s life, her friend’s life, her community’s life, and Khalil’s life. Starr said that T-H-U-G L-I-F-E is about Us, “This is about Us, with a capital U; everybody who looks like us, feels like us, and is experiencing this pain with us” (Thomas 171). Starr realizes she must stand up for her family, friends, community, and anyone else who feels the pain they feel. Starr stands up to what is right in the words of T-H-U-G L-I-F-E.

This is about Everyone

After the fatal shooting of Khalil, an unarmed black man, the whole community of Garden Heights was rocked to its core. Everyone was upset and angry that the cop who shot Khalil was not charged immediately and was only put on leave from work. The media made Khalil seem like a criminal and the cop was a victim. All of Garden Heights felt what T-H-U-G L-I-F-E meant without even realizing it, they were giving hate in their youth for being black, for being poor, for being at the bottom of society and that hate they got in their youth follows them throughout their life. Starr states, “I think it’s about more than youth though. I think it’s about us period. Black people, minorities, poor people. Everyone at the bottom of society. We’re the ones who get the short end of the stick, but we’re also the ones they fear the most” (Thomas 168). Starr is saying that everyone at the bottom of society are the ones who get the most hate and are also the most feared. For Garden Heights the fear has only started, the protests and riots for Khalil and his death get worse and worse as time goes on and the police officer is not arrested or charged for killing an unarmed man. Garden Heights protests the hate they have received throughout years; they receive hate for being a poor, black community, they receive hate from white officers who assume all of these people in the community are criminals. They protest for their rights, for Kahlil’s life, and against the hate they are given.

Hate Produces Hate

T-H-U-G L-I-F-E surrounds this community, the black community has been hated by the white community and the white community has been hated by the black community. The black community is fearful of the cops, they know the cops only see them as criminals and because of that they teach their children young how to protect themselves. Starr explains that as a child she was taught how to act if she is ever stopped by a cop, “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you” (Thomas 20). The hate Starr’s parents grew up knowing was passed on to their children just as it has been passed on through all the children of Garden Heights. Now was the time for that hate to stop and for someone to stand up against it, “They gave me the hate, and now I wanna f**k everybody, even if I’m not sure how” (Thomas 389). Starr said this knowing she needed to change the community and the hate within it even if it meant rioting and protesting along with the community. T-H-U-G L-I-F-E is the hate you give and the hate you give a community will end up coming back at you in the long run. Garden Heights starts their protests peacefully but once they receive more hate, they get more violent and more out of control. Starr thought protesting and riots were what they needed but in the end, she realizes it was wrong, they were all just angry and now everyone and everything was messed up. With the understanding of this Starr realizes that The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody isn’t about the hate the cops give to the community but also the hate the community gives to one another.

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Not just about the Hate U Give but also the Hate U Receive

The Hate U Give is completed with the use of T-H-U-G L-I-F-E, we see how a community bands together against hate, in the right and wrong ways. The community started off in fear and sadness surrounding the death of a member of the community, but then the sadness turns to fear, and that fear turned to hate. Starr thinks back to what Khalil said to her the night he was shot, “He said Thug Life stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody. We did all that stuff last night because we were pissed, and it f**ked all of us. Now we have to somehow un-f**k everybody” (Thomas 432). The hate the community gave to the cops was now turned to hate they gave each other and now T-H-U-G L-I-F-E is not just about the hate they give but also the hate they receive. Angie Thomas’s use of this acronym gives more meaning to the novel, it gives us a deeper understanding of hate within the community of Garden Heights. The Hate U Give not only to the youth but to a whole community f**ks everyone in that community and more. We see how the effects of hate being given and received and how it can turn a community against each other. The Hate U Give always ends up ruining everyone; ruining the youth, the community, the ones to come, the ones who die, the ones who try to act against the hate. The Hate U Give is more than an acronym Angie Thomas focused her novel on, it is an understanding of how hate can cause massive issues for everyone overcome and surrounded by the hate.

© 2022 H Strubinger

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