The centre of the story unfolds quite quickly; with a pivotal moment, with the main character, Starr Carter, witnessing the murder of one of her childhood friends at the hand of a police officer. Based in modern times, it could be any time in the last 5 years, even though a specific year isn’t mentioned, there are a lot of musical and situational references which let you know that it is very much written in the NOW. This then propels Starr into a massive internal battle between speaking up, being the advocate for her dead friend or shying away and keeping her head down. The story touches on certain subjects which I assume the average teenager goes through, along with some that the average shouldn’t have to go through. Starr and her older brother, Seven attend a public school outside of the “ghetto” where she grew up, which they associate as a “White” school, she opens up about feeling like she has to be two people, the Starr she shows at school. The good/non-threatening, Starr and the more relaxed, more “Black” Starr.
Break it Down:
As previously stated, I can fully see why this book was one of the best selling books of 2017, it is 100% necessary, based on the current political climate and the issues with the disproportionate numbers of police assassinations of Black men. Though the book touches on the subjects and references key members from the Civil Rights movements, I felt like it could of been harder hitting. It could of been more political and maybe rip the band aid off much more. At the same time, maybe that wasn’t the author’s mandate, it is based around the life of a 16 year old high-schooler, so some of the emotional development and pivotal a-ha moments, might be a premature request on my part.
The book discusses the struggle Starr faces showing the different sides of her personality, all the while, being the “face” of the Black students as she is one of two Black students in her whole school. She is fully aware that she can’t be what is classed as “too ghetto” or “too Black” as this will instantly drop her into all of the stereotypical assumptions of her peers of what they believe a Black person from the “hood” is like. She also faces the challenge of dating a White boy, of whom she knows her dad will be disappointed because of all the pro-Black rhetoric she has been raised around. She struggles to fully believe that she should be with Chris, her bf and if she is “selling out”. I very much could relate to this, we have blogged about this previously, What The Race? I have had some of the same struggles and wondered if I was being true to my heritage/culture and ultimately honouring the struggles faced by my ancestors if I wasn’t with someone who was from the same background. Ultimately, I realised that as long I was being true to myself- colour and ethnicity would have no bearing.
The RnR Rating:
I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 R rating- it’s a great read, I went through it in about 3 weeks; the language isn’t difficult or overly complicated. The story progresses smoothly, you’re not left with gaps or left scratching your head. It’s believable, especially as this is probably the reality of many of the families who’s children have been killed by the police.
Would I recommend the book? 100%, it is a MUST read- it’s an honest, simplistic and open book, it shows the reader a small glimpse on what it may be like to live in underdeveloped areas and the struggles that its inhabitants face. It shows what a community it really is and the interesting characters who impact us in many different ways, some subtler than others.
Have you guys picked up this book? Let us know you thoughts- did you like it/hate it or are you indifferent? Do you have any books you’d like us to review? Drop us a line!