“5 Things I Love About…” is a blog series about what makes some of my recent reads stand out. While I do my best to avoid major spoilers, some of the details I list could be considered minor spoilers.
Confession time: While I’ve owned The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for months and months, I only just got around to reading it. This is YA sacrilege. I knowwwww. 2017 was a crappy year, and I wasn’t emotionally up for heavier reads like THUG.
BUT Y’ALL, I HAVE RECTIFIED THIS ISSUE AND I AM SO GLAD I DID. This book is so incredibly powerful. In case you’ve been even more out of touch than me, THUG is told from the POV of sixteen-year-old Starr, who’s the only witness when her childhood friend is shot and killed by a police officer. What follows is one of the most stunning and relevant and necessary stories I’ve read in a long time. Starr is fierce and vulnerable and so well-rendered, and . . . ARGH YES JUST READ IT.
Five things I love:
1. THUG is one of those brilliant, wrenching YA titles that can hook non-YA readers. My best friend doesn’t read YA fiction beyond Harry Potter and had never heard of THUG, but I left her alone with my copy for a short time last week. When I got back, she stared at me with owl eyes. “That chapter!” she said. “THAT FIRST CHAPTER.” Since then, we’ve been passing the book back and forth. She’s impatiently waiting for me to finish writing this post so she can have it back, and I’ve had to hold back from texting her quotes and spoilers and “OMG WAIT UNTIL YOU GET TO THIS PART” messages every ten pages. Oh, and speaking of that first chapter . . .
2. The way my heart crashed at the end of chapter one. I knew what was coming from reading blurbs and reviews, but the story leads up to that moment with such intensity that I went into full-blown denial. Read it and tell me you don’t feel that same dread, that same inevitability. Tell me you don’t start to sink.
3. Garden Heights Starr vs. Williamson Starr. Angie Thomas juggles Starr’s neighborhood vs. school personas so skillfully that the narrative slips between them almost imperceptibly at times.
4. Starr’s dad, Big Mav. There’s so much to adore about Maverick’s complexity and wisdom and I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll go with a few of my favorite tiny details — his gardening and the way he refers to Starr’s Macbook laptop as “that expensive-ass fruit one.” I use a Macbook too, and . . . Yeah, that sums it up pretty well.
5. Starr’s knowledge of sneakers. What a unique character detail. She can ID them, she knows how to maintain them, and she’ll probably judge you for the ones on your feet. She usually goes for Jordans, but she wears silver sequined Chucks to prom, and . . .
I might be just a little bit biased about sequined Chuck Taylors. These are mine.
There’s so much to digest in THUG. So much to fall in love with and so much to rage against right along with Starr. And now I need to hand my copy back to my friend. She’s waiting. And staring.