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. (x)
This book was one of the most anticipated books of 2017 and rightly so.
Starr is a compelling character and I could really get into her point of view and understand how she sees the world. It’s easy to think that a book on such a topic would come out preachy, with little character development, but that is not the case here. It does examine the tough topic of racism and privilege, all while having the characters feel like real people.
What I really loved was how present Starr’s parents were throughout the story, which is often not the case in YA (especially in YA fantasy). One of my favorite scenes was when Starr and her dad were talking about Tupac and the meaning of “thug life.”
When Starr was interviewed about the night Khalil was shot, I teared up at the point where she wondered if the police officer was going to shoot her too. It was very raw and gave you a glimpse into life under police brutality.
Definitely pick this up – it is a much needed narrative about racism and police brutality, all with compelling and real characters.
Favorite quote: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing that.”