Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic
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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.
A young woman witnesses her friend’s murder in this riveting young adult novel. Let’s review!
This book explores the myriad racism pervading our society – within our relationships and within our communities. Starr Carter’s encounter with racism doesn’t begin when her friend is killed by an officer of the law in front of her, but it motivates her to examine the racism surrounding her. As she comes to terms with Khalil’s killing, she comes to accept the various pieces of herself. Secondary characters are as detailed and interesting as Starr, especially her family. It’s nice reading a young adult novel with an attentive and loving family.
It doesn’t just begin and end with racism. Gang violence, drugs, interracial romance, and friendships are interwoven into the text. Kudos to the author for writing about so many complex topics without it feeling like an after school special. Despite the grim premise, the overall message is hopeful. Racism is real, yes; but it’s worth fighting against.
tl;dr A must read novel featuring an empowered protagonist examining the racism surrounding her.