This review will not do the book justice. I absolutely loved this, I teared up in the staff room and on buses. The characters are wonderfully written, their speech, actions, and personality made them fully realised in my head in a way that a well described character is not always conjured to life. Starr’s arc from victim to activist is thoroughly believable and she carries the reader with her every step of the way.
But obviously, there’s more to it than that. This book teaches us about societies, about systemic racism, about people, about families, and about thugs. And how they’re not always thugs, they’re just people, trying to do the right thing, look after their families. Though sometimes they are thugs and when you have the support system to do so you should feel strong enough to push them back, even if they’re cops. And, of course, this book can teach some of us about privilege. Having there be two white characters on either side of Starr as she is going through her experience really shows the kind of people we can be. Whether it’s because it naturally evolved that way or it was a conscious decision on Angie Thomas’ part (probably a bit of both); it was an excellent choice. Because it forces readers to choose: who do you want to be? “I’m not racist, you’re just sensitive”? Or “I don’t understand, but I do support”?
If you liked this book you should read Anger Is a Gift which deals with similar themes while adding an LGBTQIAA+ narrative and If You Come Softly. And if those books don’t make you think Black Lives Matter then I just don’t know what to say.