The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas’s first novel, debuted as number one on The New York Times bestseller list when it was published in February 2017. Thomas developed the novel from a short story she wrote for her senior project in Belhaven University’s creative writing program, shortly after the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant. After graduating, Thomas set the project aside because of its emotionally taxing subject matter; the news of subsequent police shootings drew her back to the work. She received the Walter Dean Myers Grant from the activist group We Need Diverse Books to support her writing.
Thomas was concerned that publishers wouldn’t be interested in the book because of its polarizing subject material; she asked literary agent Brooks Sherman if a Black Lives Matter-inspired book would be amenable to publishers via Twitter in June 2015. Thomas got a resounding answer to that question when the book set off a bidding war between 13 publishing houses.
The Hate U Give was a critical success, drawing praise in forums such as Salon, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly. A movie adaption of the novel by 20th Century Fox is in the works, directed by George Tillman, Jr., with a screenplay by Audrey Wells and starring Amandla Stenberg.
Written from the viewpoint of a 16-year-old African-American girl, the novel deals directly with issues of police brutality, racial profiling, and activism. Its title is a nod to THUG LIFE—The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody—an acronym coined by rapper Tupac Shakur that encapsulates the cyclical nature of crime, poverty, and hate as a result of racism.