Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug.
Recently I read Thug and now I want to talk about it and why it’s important that this kind of stories are told
Quick summary: This book follows the story of a black teenager who sees one of her friends be murdered by a police officer.
While this is an important issue right now in the US, I had yet to read a YA book that tackled the matter. And Angie Thomas did it masterfully
Personally, I don’t live there and all the information I have is second-hand through social media but either way it’s a story that makes you think of how systematic oppression works and how our own prejudices affect how we relate to other people.
THUG takes the perspective of Starr, a teen who is just coming onto herself and discovering how the world works. She is from a “bad neighborhood”, it has gangs and drugs and crimes but it also has hard-working people, people who want to “salir adelante” and make a better life. Her parents decide to send her and her brothers to a good school because they didn’t want them getting into any business.
The part that stuck with me the most was her talking about how there were different Starrs depending on who she was with.
That means flipping the switch in my brain so I’m Williamson Starr. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto I can’t stand myself for doing it, but I do it anyway.
This Is So Real
I grew up far from my home country and learnt early on that if I talked to other people the way I did with my family they would look at me weird and make fun or say shitty stuff. I constructed a persona that could fit in and “flipped the switch” whenever necessary. That doesn’t mean that either Starr or me were ashamed of who we are, it’s just easier so you don’t question it
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? That’s like being ashamed of myself.
Another strong point in the novel was how she dealt with grief. It isn’t something you see so much in YA but it IS something everyone has to face sooner or later and Angie breaks your heart and heals it all in one novel. Starr hadn’t been as close to Khalil when he died but he was still her friend and they loved each other no matter what. Her death changed her not only because of the circumstances but simply because that was someone she’d never get to see again
Funerals aren’t for dead people. They’re for the living.
But at the core, this is a novel about how racism is hurting society and there are people who ignore this just to feel better. They prefer to think the people hurt by it somehow deserve it and so, that it’s not an issue that needs to be fixed.
THUG stands for The Hate U Give and the quote ends with Little Infants Fucks Everybody and in this novel you get to see that hate, how it poisons children and how the adults who grew with it keep perpetuating it
That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life.”
I have dealt with racism since I was 5 and there were times I didn’t even get that people were being racist because I was so used to it. It took years to be able to look back and see how that hate fucked me over
Although I have never been a victim of police brutality (thank God) this is not an issue I can just ignore because it doesn’t affect me directly so I do what I can. If it’s reviewing a book for other people to be aware, or retweeting links to news, whatever it is that I can do then I’m doing it. I don’t live in the US but racism is something that happens everywhere and all of us need to get up and do something.
It isn’t a happy book, it makes you cry and feel powerless, it makes you put yourself in the shoes of a kid who has to deal with thing no kid should deal with but it forces you to see the world just like she sees it. It’s a book that will change your perspective in many things and that is a necessity. Starr keeps living and she does never lose faith that justice can be achieved.
Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.