I suppose pop-culture references work well for a particular demographic like young adult readers. These references help people relate better to the themes of the book. The danger is that these references can become dated with time making the story...
The Hate U Give Video
Watch the illustrated video summary of the award-winning novel, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas.
The Hate U Give novel takes place in Garden Heights, a predominantly black and impoverished urban neighborhood. The protagonist is a teenage girl named Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old African-American living in Garden Heights while attending the upscale, largely-white private school Williamson Prep. Starr is continually navigating both worlds, but as the novel opens, her best friend from childhood, Khalil, is unjustly shot and killed by a cop. The novel follows Starr as she transforms her trauma and grief into activism.
The main characters include:
• Maverick "Big Mav" Carter is Starr's father who owns and operates a grocery store in Garden Heights and is a firm believer in the tenets of Black Power.
• Lisa Carter is Starr's mother and registered nurse. She is an invaluable source of support and care for her daughter throughout the novel. She encourages Starr to do as much as she is comfortable with in terms of activism and speaking out.
• Carlos is Lisa's brother who serves as a police officer in the same force with the officer who shot Khalil. He lives in a suburb that is wealthier than Garden Heights.
• Seven is the older son of Maverick and Iesha and is Starr's half-brother. He has a close and supportive relationship with Starr and they play basketball together every month.
• King is the most notorious gangbanger in the neighborhood, a King Lord deeply involved in drug dealing and violent acts.
• Iesha is King's girlfriend and the mother of Seven and Kenya.
• Kenya is Starr’s friend who lives in Garden Heights. She and Starr share a brother, since Maverick is Seven's father and Iesha is the mother of both Kenya and Seven.
• Devante is an acquaintance of Starr's in Garden Heights and a member of King's gang, the King Lords.
• Chris is Starr's white and rich boyfriend who shares Starr's love for Jordan sneakers and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The novel opens with Starr attending a spring-break party with her friend, Kenya. Starr has just started to catch up with Khalil—her best friend from childhood who has entered the dangerous world of drug dealing since Starr began attending prep school—when a gang dispute leads to a dance floor gunfight.
Starr and Khalil flee the scene and are pulled over by a police officer for driving with a broken taillight. The officer pats Khalil down and walks back to his car. When Khalil opens his car door to ask Starr if she’s okay, the officer opens fire, and Starr watches her friend die.
The grief, confusion, anger, and fear that Starr must deal with in the aftermath of Khalil’s death make her initially unwilling to identify herself as the sole witness of the night’s events.
As time passes, however, Starr loses her reluctance, serving as part of the police department’s investigation, speaking to the local defense attorney, and hiring a lawyer from a local activist group. Starr ultimately embraces activism herself by advocating for justice for Khalil on a nationally-televised interview and brazenly joining street protests after a grand jury fails to indict the officer who shot Khalil.
The tragedy of Khalil’s death tears through a neighborhood already fragmented by drugs and violence from deeply entrenched gangs. Starr’s father, Maverick, is a former gang member who spent time in prison before he could extricate himself from the street life. His long-standing feud with Kenya’s father, King—a gangster who effectively runs the neighborhood—puts Starr’s family in constant danger.
Tensions arise between Maverick and his brother-in-law Carlos; Carlos was Starr’s first father figure while Maverick was locked up. The tense situation is further complicated because Carlos is a cop serving on the same force as the officer who shot Khalil. Torn between the protective impulse he feels for Starr and the loyalty he has towards his career, Carlos wants to convince Starr that not all police officers are corrupt or bad.
Starr’s mother, Lisa, argues with Maverick about whether the family should move out of Garden Heights. At first, Maverick is opposed because he believes he can best improve Garden Heights when he is living in it; Lisa counters that their family’s safety is a priority and that Maverick can continue to use the grocery store he owns in the neighborhood as a means to help the community. Ultimately, the family moves to the suburbs.
Starr’s brother Seven—who lives with Kenya and King—remains torn between the urge to stay and protect his mother and sisters, and the desire to attend college outside of the city.
Meanwhile, a newly initiated gangbanger named DeVante turns to Maverick for help in getting out of the gang; he ends up living with Carlos.
The tensions and feuds running through the novel come to a head when the grand jury fails to indict the officer who shot Khalil. Protests and riots erupt in Garden Heights.
King takes advantage of the chaos to set fire to Maverick’s store while Starr, Chris, Seven, and DeVante are trapped inside. With Maverick’s help, they manage to escape.
The neighborhood turns on King, getting him arrested for arson. With the promise of Carlos’ protection, DeVante agrees to serve as witness to King’s drug-dealing schemes, removing King from the neighborhood’s gang scene and ending his abuse towards Kenya and Seven’s mother.
“Maverick also grows to accept Chris, inviting his daughter’s boyfriend to go boxing with him. The novel ends with Starr making a promise to Khalil’s memory: she won’t remain silent and will continue fighting against injustice.”