Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Angie Thomas
Starr Carter inhabits two vastly different lives: her life in the fancy prep school she attends, and her life in a lower-class neighborhood with her family. Starr keeps these worlds separate and distinct. But all of her careful compartmentalization begins to crack when she witnesses the shooting of Khalil, one of her childhood friends, at the hands of a police officer. But it’s all of the events that happen after Khalil’s death that shock Starr’s carefully crafted life. And as Starr navigates the rubble left in the wake of this pivotal moment, she realizes the importance of her words, the importance of what she says, and the importance of Khalil’s story told by the only person who saw it happen.
Thomas’s story is brutal, raw, painful, controversial, and honest. Thomas’s writing shows Starr as a regular teenage girl caught up in the midst of a very big movement. It also shows Starr as who she really is, a black teenager caught between two worlds, in the midst of a critical point in her life and in the lives of those in her community. Thomas is not afraid to show honest scenes and ask uncomfortable questions; she expects a lot from her readers. However, Thomas’s writing can sometimes be a bit didactic or heavy handed. The amount of swearing may lead some readers to be uncomfortable. But despite this, the story is very good and is particularly apropos for today’s day and age as it asks questions about race, respect, humanity, and community.
*Contains severe language, mild sexual content, and moderate violence.