When Starr Carter was just a young child she saw one of her best friends get murdered before her eyes in a drive-by shooting. Soon after, her parents enrolled her and her siblings in a private school an hour away to help them escape some of the violence of their neglected neighborhood. Now, Starr is sixteen years old and will witness another friend get murdered, this time by a police officer. Can Starr possibly overcome the feelings of grief and guilt of watching the lives of two friends end? Will she be able to face her fears to speak the truth and seek justice for her friend?
This powerful story by first-time author Angie Thomas speaks to the current issues of police brutality and violence against minorities, particularly the black community. I think sometimes it can be hard to relate to what people of different backgrounds experience; this book does an excellent job of helping you understand the feelings of confusion, fear, and ultimately powerlessness that those affected by gun violence and discrimination face. Thomas makes Starr and the other characters in the book come alive through Starr’s first-person narrative. She seamlessly weaves tragedy with humor to create an engaging story that anyone, regardless of their race or upbringing, can relate to. I feel this is an important book that not only every teen, but adult, should read.
This book has won or been nominated for many awards, including being nominated for the prestigious 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Please be aware that this book contains some profanity, racial slurs, and graphic descriptions of violence; it may be too mature for some younger teens. It is available at the library in print and audiobook, and as an ebook and electronic audiobook on Overdrive.