Angie Thomas’s novel The Hate U Give, about a teenager named Starr who sees her childhood friend shot dead by police in front of her, was an instant hit when she left in February 2017, debuting at the top of the New York Times list of best-sellers of young adults and stay there for 50 weeks.
Thomas’s novel is based on a short story he wrote after the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant. Narrated by Starr, it captures a whole range of concerns and events that have animated the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as broader American conversations about race: police shootings of unarmed black men, double consciousness and code change, white “color blind” people, an asymmetric justice system, gang violence and much more.
But while art that deftly works as an initiator of important social issues can often fail in its narrative, The Hate U Give is as moving, fun and fascinating as its narrator, Starr, and the new film based on the novel succeeds Less as much as, if not better than, your source material.
Starr Carter is constantly changing between two worlds: the poor neighborhood, mostly African-American, where he lives and the rich, mostly white prep school he attends. The awkward balance between these worlds is broken soon when he witnesses the deadly shots of his childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Faced with pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find his voice and decide to defend the right thing.
Initial release: October 5, 2018 (USA)
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Story by: Angie Thomas
Producers: George Tillman Jr., Robert Teitel, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen
Production companies: 20th Century Fox, Temple Hill Productions, State Street Pictures