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Angie Thomas’ debut novel follows 16-year-old Starr Carter, who lives in a gang-ravaged neighborhood but goes to school at Williamson Prep, where she’s only one of a handful of black kids. One day, she’s in the car with her friend Khalil when he is shot and killed by a cop. The case becomes national news, putting the dichotomy in Starr’s life into even greater relief.

Thomas tells NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro that, like Starr, she grew up in two very different worlds. “I went to a mostly white, upper-class private college … but I was from a neighborhood that is known for all of the wrong reasons and, for lack of better words, we will call it the hood. So I knew I had to fight against the stereotype of being a ghetto girl, and I had to fight even harder to show that I was intelligent and that I was capable of being there, just like my counterparts.”

Listen to our interview here: ‘The Hate U Give’ Explores Racism And Police Violence

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BOOKS READ IN 2017: THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.