Angie Thomas’s young adult novel The Hate U Give follows the experiences of Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old African-American girl who witnesses her best friend Khalil get shot by a white police officer. Over the course of the book, we see how Starr manages to find her voice and fight for justice.
In terms of structure, the events of the novel develop chronologically across five parts. Khalil’s death is the defining event of the story, and all of the other sections of the story are organized by how they relate chronologically to this dramatic event.
The main character is the narrator, Starr Carter. The other main character is her friend Khalil Harris. Even though we only see Khalil directly in the first two chapters, Starr is determined to offer a sense of Khalil as a person both to readers and to the public. Other key characters include Starr’s parents Maverick and Lisa, as well as Starr’s boyfriend Chris and her friend Hailey, who represent different ways in which white people sometimes respond to issues of race.
The story is set in the present day and the events take place in an unnamed American city across a number of different settings, which represent the different parts of Starr’s life. These include Garden Heights, the poor and mainly African-American neighborhood where Starr grew up. This is contrasted with Starr’s school, which is in a wealthy white neighborhood and where she is one of the only black students.
Starr Carter is the first person narrator of the novel. Her narrative voice uses teenage slang, and she often shares personal comments about the events that unfold with the readers, giving the story a more intimate feeling.
The language also includes phrases and non-standard grammar pointing to Starr’s black identity and her immersion in black culture. The story also contains many pop cultural references, and some elements of the plot have symbolic significance.
Excerpt from the study guide: