Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I always struggle with reviewing books that deal with an experience and perspective of life I don’t have. I’m able-bodied, thin, and white. If I were a man and twenty years older, I’d be the epitome of Privilege in America. That said… this book feels necessary, sadly.
It’s depressing how true this story is. Though it’s fiction, it’s really not, as this is a scenario we see over and over again in the United States, and is daily life for far too many people. The community banding together in the story is exactly what we need to keep doing. Ah, see, it’s hard for me to write about this without it becoming about bigger issues than just the book…
…but again, that’s why this book is necessary!
Limiting myself to just the story: it will tear your heart in two. It will teach you what not to say and do in racial contexts if you’re someone with little exposure to other cultures (ahem, me, though I’m trying to change that). It will make you laugh and cheer and cry and rage. It will show you the wisdom of 2Pac. And, hopefully, it will tell you to get off your f*cking high horse and shout loudly and nonstop for the rights of everyone when they’re being stomped on.
Other tags I want to add for this book: dystopia; horror.