Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Walker Books
Rating: 5 stars
Buy the Book: Waterstones, Amazon, The Book Depository
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.
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.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review but this did not affect my opinion at all.
Wow. This book blew me away. It is the book that everyone needs. When I started reading this book all I knew was that it was about the Black Lives Matter movement and everyone who had already read it, loved it. Therefore when Khalil was murdered in Chapter 2, I was shocked and heartbroken even though we had only known him for about 20 pages. (Serves me right for not reading the blurb). That was just the start of hard hitting moments.
Whilst I’m not black, as I am an ethnic minority, I could relate to this book a lot. None of it was shocking to me but not just because I’m a minority but also because this book just shows what is happening out there in the world. When it comes to racism, honestly nothing shocks me anymore because this world has become disgustingly full of it. That’s what THUG is such an important book. It’s real, unlike a lot of other YA contemporaries where everything gets fixed and the characters live happily. Racism is a never ending battle and I loved that this book showed that.
Starr was an excellent main character to follow. I loved how she was torn between her ‘black’ self and her ‘white’ school version of herself. As someone who has picked up a lot of Asian traits not just from my parents but also from watching Bollywood movies, I related to that aspect of her. Having 2 different personas because people won’t understand your other true self. Starr wasn’t a perfect character. She was flawed, she made mistakes, she was lost, she didn’t know what to do. And I loved that. I’m sick and tired of YA characters being ‘perfect’ and always doing the right things in every situation. PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES.
The other characters made this book even more wonderful. Her whole family, her boyfriend, DeVante and Maya were some stand outs for me. Each character had a role and made the book enjoyable to read even though it was such a hard hitting topic. I love YA contemporary but this book just shows that the genre needs to step up its game. YA in general does too. Stop killing off parents. Stop making everything romance based ( I love romance but it’s not the only thing in a teenagers life). Stop glossing over hard topics. Stop making happy endings and arguing that life was completely perfect. Life has no happy endings. Life carries on. That’s one thing this book reminded me about.
This book got across a strong message of saying no to racism without being ‘preachy’. By including it as part of the narrative and having parts of it intertwined throughout, the message came across a lot stronger and that is one of the reasons why I could never forget this book. I honestly can’t wait for the movie because I think this is a story everyone needs to hear, no matter what format it is in.
To conclude, THUG is amazing and Angie Thomas has made a long lasting impact with her debut novel. Her writing was intense, sharp and to the point. This book will affect everyone. It will make people think and act and no longer stay silent. Everyone and their mother will be and should be talking about this book and it deserves all the love it gets. We all need to say no to racism and show that Black Lives Matter.