Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
I have to say, this is one time when the hype - and there has been a lot of it - matches the quality of the book. I bought it at Dymock’s on an impulse, last week, along with a British YA novel I’m still reading, and read it over a couple of days. I will be passing it on to my niece Dezzy, who will be very likely to enjoy it.
After recently reading a novel with an unlikeable heroine, it was a pleasure to find one I could care about. Poor Starr is, I think, suffering post traumatic stress disorder even before the story begins, from seeing a childhood friend killed in a drive-by shooting, but she deals with both deaths and does what she thinks is inportant, while denying that she is brave.
This novel is full-on! There was very little time in it when the tension let up. Even when Starr’s family are relaxing and enjoying themselves you know something serious is about to happen.
And Starr’s family are likeable. Her parents adore each other and their children. Her little brother is sweet and funny. It’s rather nice to read a YA novel where the parents play an important role in the story. Too often they only appear when necessary, to ground the kids or tell them the deep dark truth about their paranormal Dad.
I did wonder how a family making a living from a small grocery store(her father) and nursing(her mum) could manage fees for a horribly expensive private school for all three kids. Starr does mention something about a scholarship, but only once and presumably only for her.
The last chapters were even more full-on intense than the rest of the book, but no spoilers. You do see it coming.
I believe that there were elements of this story inspired by the author’s own life as well as the true stories of young black kids murdered by police and given no justice. She was passionate about this and it shows. It should be interesting to see what comes next, but even if this is the “one book” Angie Thomas had in her, it will be worth it.