Over the past few years, it’s been hard to ignore the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the protests that have swept across the country in the wake of extrajudicial killings of Black folks by police. While the simple, yet poignant, phrase has become sort of a cultural and political Rorschach test, it has also inspired artists to explore the ways in which race, policing, and life intersect. New shows like Fox’s Shot’s Fired and BET’s Rebel delve into police shootings, while musicians sing and rap about folks being killed by police despite having their hands up. The movement is also the backdrop of Angie Thomas’ mesmerizing debut novel, The Hate U Give.

Here’s a synopsis of the book via Thomas’ website:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter navigates between the poverty-stricken neighborhood she has grown up in and the upper-crust suburban prep school she attends. Her life is up-ended when she is the sole witness to a police officer shooting her best friend, Khalil, who turns out to have been unarmed during the confrontation – but may or may not have been a drug dealer. As Starr finds herself even more torn between the two vastly different worlds she inhabits, she also has to contend with speaking her truth and, in the process, trying to stay alive herself.

The Hate U Give has been hailed by critics, who’ve said Thomas—who’s described by her website as “a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine—has written “the most hotly anticipated YA novel of the last year.” And the love of her book isn’t just hype, either. EBONY featured Thomas’ novel in our round up of must-reads that celebrates Black womanhood, there are plans to turn it into a film starring Amandla Stenberg, and now the 20-something author has another prestigious distinction under her belt: no. 1 on the New York Times list.


Interested in reading The Hate U Give? Pick it up, here.