aka The story that was long overdue
I have been putting off reading this book for the LONGEST while. For one thing, this book has been hyped af before it was even published and we know that doesn’t always go well. I was scared as hell that the hype would be fake. Secondly, the topic that Angie covers is HARD, so I needed to get into a mental space that would be able to give the book its just due. But, I figured that Black History Month was as good a time as any.
I really want to do this one justice.
“Goddamn, it’s always some drama with you.”
Here’s what you NEED to know about her: she loves Tupac, she has to live a dual life where one side of her is allowed to be real and the other side has to be tame and ‘refined’. I understand all of the decisions she’s made throughout the book, because so much of her reality is actually what life is like for a lot of us who are in the minority.
“He was more than any bad decsion he made”
Stereotypes are a bish, because they give people the idea that their assumptions are correct. Most times these assumptions start from our very own people which gives outsiders the implied permission to do the same. Khalil didn’t stand a chance at winning public sympathy. He is black. He is an assumed drug dealer. That’s all he needed to be deemed worthy of that bullet.
He is Philando Castile, he is Tamir Rice, he is Trayvon Martin, he is all of us. Honestly, even though he makes ‘all the wrong choices’ during the police stop, I cannot help but feel for him. This was a blatant overreaction rooted in an irrational fear of the black man. It hurts and it’s aggravating as all hell.
I especially enjoyed the fact that he was such a flawed character. He wasn’t an innocent flower but he wasn’t the demon that the media was making him out to be either. We all do what we think we have to in order to survive.
The two versions of white people in these types of situation. Yes, I’m going to generalize here, cuz I can! There’s Chris, who is GENUINELY trying, and is openminded and not latently or intentionally racist. He wasn’t my favourite but I understood him.
Then there are the Haileys of the world that would make jokes about fried chicken and Chinese people eating cats, then blame YOU for being offended. Like, girl! Try not to be so insensitive next time?! Can the Hailey’s of the world just…go somewhere far, far away. So isolated from the rest of us that we forget about them and their ugliness.
Starr’s most real POC friends, from both sides of her world. At first I felt that Kenya was too harsh on our girl, but, it was what Starr needed to break out of her fear and start fighting back. Kenya is that token character that every protagonist needs to push them to make the hard decisions. The one that will hurt their feelings, but it’s “for your own good” so you can’t possibly be mad…right? Just like All of the characters in this book, she is flawed and extreme. But I liked it. Doesn’t mean I could be friends with her though we would argue constantly, and that is nooooot healthy so…pass.
Maya is the calmer version of Kenya. That quiet support system that also calls you out, but much less harshly. At first I wasn’t sure if she was down for the cause or just one of Hailey’s drones, but then she showed her hand. She is my pick for a character I’d love to hear more from.
Moral of the story, somewhere out there, there are real people that can fit into the mold of Angie’s characters. This ish is REAL. Also, ALSO(!), I despiiiised Mr. Lewis in the beginning and he only redeemed himself at the very end of the book. When you get to that point you’ll get what I mean on both fronts.
“Why did they shoot him?” Seven asks. “Was he a threat or something?”
If you watched the news at all throughout 2016 to now (before that if we’re being honest), you couldn’t miss what was happening. Black people, black men, throughout the US were being killed by the police, unjustly, with NO repercussions for the officers. This book novelizes that reality, to a tee. You could definitely see the book pan out before your eyes if you pay even a little bit of attention, or if you’ve paid attention to current events.
So, if you don’t like when things can be predicted, I’m sorry.
But…BUT, even though I could see how things would go, the journey was worth it in my opinion. There was satisfactory development and enough stress-free moments that you would temporarily forget the serious subject matter.
Angie Thomas highlights something that I think it’s important to take note of, the fact that it is ALWAYS the minority’s fault. Always. Regardless of the circumstances, whether they are the aggressor or the victim, participant or not. She also reminds us that these ‘thugs’ are still somebody’s loved one. Somebody, somewhere, is hurting over this loss, and no matter what we will NEVER have the full story. Unless you are that person left hurting, and even then, there may be a side that you wouldn’t have seen.
“If I kill Tyrone, I’m going to prison. If a cop kills me, he’s getting put on leave. Maybe.”
Can we have the movie now? Like, I wasn’t even one-quarter of the way through this important, wonderful piece of literature, and I KNEW that the movie would be everything that I wanted. Honestly, getting this, Black Panther and Love, Simon in the same year would make 2018 the best one to date (cinematically).
Okay, now that I’ve begged for the movie schedule to be increased, my ACTUAL thoughts.
Giving in to the rage, no matter how justified, or how good it feels in the moment, can and most certainly will come back to hurt you. But, BUT, that doesn’t mean you ought to sit back and do nothing. Find a way to make the situation right and let your voice be heard.
I loved all of the character growth. Starr is finally comfortable enough to be her true self with her Williamson family, DeVante grows up and we get to see the other side of Khalil. All necessary for a fully fleshed out storyline.
I can’t change where I come from or what I’ve been through, so why should I be ashamed of what makes me, me?
With all the pressure I put on myself for this one, I hope I made sense and didn’t psych myself out. It was probably just an incoherent mess, but…please don’t tell me if it is. This is the best I could do with all my emotions fighting against each other as they are.
*You should probably watch Luke Cage and Black Lighting while you wait for the movie. I mean, you don’t have to but…you SHOULD.
This one is definitely worth the hype. Even if BLM isn’t your ‘thing’, you’ll get something out of this. This is a book that everyone should read.
Barnes & Noble: 4.8
My rating: 5 yaas bish stars.