In Thomas’ debut novel, we meet Starr, a teenager who has learnt to act differently in the two worlds she lives in: a poor neighbourhood struggling with gang crime and the contrasting private school she attends in the suburbs. Her life changes completely when she is the sole witness to the fatal shooting of Khalil, her best friend who was unarmed when a police officer pulled the trigger. She is soon dragged into protests and riots as she struggles to make the officer pay for what he did and bring justice for Khalil.
The most important points to make about this book for me are the themes and ideas raised – racism and police shootings are two issues that are very current. After reading this book, I feel more informed on these matters as I have had little exposure to them so far.
I absolutely loved Starr – her point of view and Thomas’ writing style combined made her really likeable. She developed to become a stronger person who is unafraid to speak out, a contrast to the beginning of the book, showing us the reader, that we too can change and stand up for what we believe in. Other characters in the book, her dad in particular, defy stereotypes – whilst he was once a gang member who served time in prison, he shows his love for his family and what he will do to protect them.
I urge you to read this book – it really opened my eyes to what kind of injustices people of colour face. One of the things I love about YA fiction is the diversity and the truly relatable protagonists that represent teenagers today. Hopefully, this book will inspire others to be like Starr and know to keep trying when you want to change your community for the better. This book is probably for those of you who are slightly older because of the content. Overall, I loved this book and I cannot wait to see what Angie Thomas has in store for us next.