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Freshman Book Series

This guide provides resources supporting each year's common read.

The Hate U Give

The Freshman book selected for the Class of 2023 is THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas.

Summary

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.

** From Barnes and Noble

Themes

The book looks at the following themes:

  • Code-Switching, Dueling Identities, and Double-Consciousness
  • Identity and Blackness
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Racism and Police Brutality
  • Family, Community, Belonging, and Loyalty
  • The Power of Language 
  • Hip Hop and Black Culture
  • Poverty and Crime Cycle
  • Injustice and Social Action

Author Information

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed.

She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr. Her second novel, On the Come Up, is on sale now.

From AngieThomas.com

Movie Trailer

Discussion Questions

The Hate U Give is a novel that provokes a lot of discussion about race, code-switching, among other topics. Here are a few discussion questions to get you started talking about the book.

  • Early in the book, Khalil and Starr listen to Tupac. Khalil explains what Tupac said “Thug Life” meant. What does this acronym mean and how else does the author use hip-hop as a motif?
  • Throughout the book, Starr talks about the different versions of herself. This is called code-switching. Do you think Starr's code-switching is successful? Do you think it's necessary? If yes, why? Do other characters code-switch in the book? Why? What role does code-switching play in your life?
  • How does Starr define family? How do you define family?
  • Starr refers to police officer Brian Cruise as his badge number: One-Fifteen. Why do you think she does this? Does her attitude toward police officers change over the course of the book? How does her uncle play into this change?
  • Starr is in an interracial relationship with Chris. Do you think this complicates their romance or strengthen it? Why? What do you think happens to them after the book?
  • Starr says to Hailey, “You can say something racist and not be racist.” What do you think this means? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • After the jury decision about Khalil's death is made public, unrest begins. There is a long history of this happening in the United States. Why do you think this happens? Do you agree with Starr's actions? If you were in Starr's position what would you do? Why?
  • What is the “trap of the white standard” that Starr’s brother Seven mentions? Have you seen examples of this in real life? Explain.
  • Starr is questioned by police about details from Khalil's past. Why do the detectives do this? What is Starr's reaction?
  • Where do you see yourself in Starr or her life?
  • Starr states that she will “never be quiet." How can you take steps to use your voice to promote social justice?

*Questions adapted from BOOKRIOT.

You can find even more discussion questions in the links below.

Related Books at UDC

Research Resources

You can further explore the events, themes, and ideas in The Hate U Give in these recommended library databases.

Instructor Resources

The ideas in the tabs above act as prompts to help you develop discussions, projects, or assignments related to The Hate U Give. They offer suggestions for ideas to include in your class or on your syllabus.

The downloadable file below includes additional resources and project ideas.

Here are some tips to leading a successful book discussion:

Before the Discussion

  • Read the book completely and take notes about the themes, motifs, and topics. Write down important page numbers and highlight important passages.
  • Come up with eight to ten questions about the book. You can also see a list of discussion questions for this title here.

During the Discussion

  • Ask your question and let others answer first.
  • Make connections between comments.
  • Ask follow-up questions.
  • Bring the conversation back to the discussion if people go off on tangents.
  • Don't feel obligated to ask all your questions.
  • Don't end a conversation if people are on-topic and really enjoying what they are sharing.
  • Wrap up the discussion by highlighting key points.
  • Thank the participants.
  • Create a vision board or collage of their different identities.
  • Write and/or record their own song related to the themes in the book.
  • Find video clips showing different perspectives on how uprisings/riots are portrayed in the media.
  • Create a protest sign using a theme from the book.

The following may be used as writing prompts for The Hate U Give:

  • What role does the media play in the book? Compare that to the role media plays in covering issues like social justice, police violence, and the portrayal of black Americans.
  • What is code-switching? What role does it play in the book and in your personal life?
  • Discuss the similarities and differences between Starr's two identities - Garden Heights and Williamson.
  • Describe a time when you had to stand up for what was right. How did you feel? What made you do it? What was the outcome?
  • Is violence in the pursuit of justice ever justified? Why or why not?
  • What role does history have on how communities view racial injustice and/or police brutality?
  • Describe a situation where someone verbally told you that you were "acting white," or "acting black." How did this make you feel? Was this comment perceived as racist?
  • What role does this book play in the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • How does Starr react to Khalil's death? What role does her family and community play?
  • What insights does this novel generate concerning the national debate over police brutality and racial profiling? Does it open new perspectives or explain any inconsistencies?

Black Lives Matter At School is a national coalition organizing for racial justice in education. Their website offers information about the movement as well as material for classroom support. You can visit the website here.

The website also has a Google Drive of material that is available here.