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.
What can I tell you that hasn’t already been said in the countless number of glowing reviews for this book? Rather than my traditional review I decided to take a different approach and include a handful of the many passages that caught my eye.
Starr Carter lives in Garden Heights, but goes to school in Williamson. These two places are worlds apart and she tries very hard to not let the two overlap. She has friends in both worlds, but she feels that she cannot be herself in either.
Hailey didn’t come. Her dad didn’t want her spending the night in “the ghetto.” I overheard my parents say that. Maya came but ended up asking her parents to come get her that night. There was a drive-by around the corner, and the gunshots scared her.
That’s when she realizes Williamson is one world and Garden Heights is another, and I have to keep them separate.
One evening she finds herself in an extremely scary position watching one of her closest childhood friends being shot and killed. This terrifying event is the backbone of the book. She has been put in a position of wanting to speak out and tell the truth of what happened that horrible evening, but fear stands in her way.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.
Not only is Starr struggling with the shooting, she is also dealing with boyfriend issues that come with raging teenage hormones.
All I could think about was those girls I see walking around Garden Heights, babies propped on their hips. Condom or no condom, shit happens.
I adore Starr’s family and the love they have for one another comes through loud and clear.
I should be out there with them, but I can’t join that march, knowing I’m one of the reasons they’re protesting.
“You know none of this is your fault, right?” Momma asks.
How in the world did she do that? “I know.”
“I mean it, baby. It’s not. You did everything right.”
“But sometimes right’s not good enough, huh?”
She takes my hand, and despite my annoyance I let her. It’s the closest thing I get to an answer for a while.
I also love the occasional humor throughout this book.
“What is Tumblr anyway? Is it like Facebook?”
“No, and you’re forbidden to get one. No parents allowed. You guys already took over Facebook.”
“You haven’t responded to my friend request yet.”
“I need Candy Crush lives.”
“That’s why I’ll never respond.”
I found this book incredibly thought-provoking on many levels. No matter your age, gender, race, or genre preference, everyone should read this book!
This book is being adapted for film and I cannot wait to see it on the big screen!
My Rating: 5/5
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 2/28/2017
Pages: 447 (eBook)
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