THE HATE U GIVE
This novel follows Starr Carter who witnesses the death of her childhood best friend, Khalil, when he is wrongfully shot by the police. As rumors run rampant Starr is forced to choose between staying safe and silent or speaking up for justice.
This novel was emotional, powerful, and eye opening for someone like me (a privileged white reader who's never had to suffer from racism or police brutality). Starr and her father Maverick were my favorite characters. Starr, despite believing she wasn't, was incredibly brave and Maverick had such a big heart. I loved the emphasis on both speaking up for injustices and community. I also liked how Starr's family (and her boyfriend) were so supportive of her. While this book is YA, I believe anyone can benefit from reading it because while Khalil is a fictional character his fate is reality for far too many innocent individuals. It takes a lot to make me cry with books and this novel accomplished that.
FINAL RATING: 5 ⭐️
ON THE COME UP
Bri Jackson is an aspiring rapper searching for a hit song to catapult her career. At the same time her family is struggling to get by after her mother loses her job.
This novel could loosely be described as a companion novel to The Hate U Give. Like Thomas' first novel, this one takes place in the Garden Heights neighborhood and there are multiple mentions of the events of The Hate U Give. Thomas did a good job of connecting the novels without it feeling forced. Much like Thomas' debut this novel also has a heavy focus on important if heavy topics including: racism and discrimination, misogyny, poverty, addiction and more. Thomas cultivated relationships within the novel that are messy but deep (much like real life family, friends, and significant others). Bri reads like a real life teen who young readers will be able to relate to. While I'm not a fan of rap music, I appreciated the inclusion of Bri's lyrics and how she came up with them.
FINAL RATING: 5 ⭐️
In this prequel to The Hate U Give Maverick Carter (Starr's dad) is seventeen and a teen father who must take responsibility for his son after the boy's mother leaves their son with him.
Fans of Maverick from The Hate U Give will enjoy reading about him when he was a youth. Thomas did a good job of keeping everything that gave him heart in THUG but making him read like a teenager/someone with less maturity and refinement. If you can read this before THUG then I recommend going that route as doing so would add to the drama and uncertainty that readers like me (who have already read THUG) won't feel as poignantly. Fans of On the Come Up are also treated to a little Easter egg in the form of Bri's dad Lawless being mentioned. The concept of this novel reminded me a lot of another novel by another incredibly talented black author, Elizabeth Acevedo. Her novel With the Fire on High also deals with teen parenthood. It also would appeal to readers of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds as both deal with the topic of revenge/gun violence.
FINAL RATING: 5 ⭐️
Angie Thomas is an author who writes books that everyone can benefit from reading. They tackle so many different important and prevalent issues. White readers like myself will find her novels educational (especially if they aren't nonfiction lovers as Thomas takes topics and makes them more palatable for fiction readers) and black readers will find characters who look like them and whom they can relate to. Even if you're not interested in a particular topic Thomas' writing has a way of sucking you into the story and the characters' lives. I recommend all three of these novels regardless of your age, race, and gender. She is one of the most masterful YA authors of her generation and I will continue to read everything she puts out.