The Hate U Give–Angie Thomas

the hate u give

The best book recommendations come from those close to you.  My oldest daughter, studying to be a high school English teacher, told me this book was a must.  Bahni Turpin’s narration added a further rich layer to my experience of Thomas’ story.

Starr watched her best friend die on the sidewalk when she was ten.  At sixteen she holds her friend, Khalil, as he dies from multiple gunshot wounds at the hands of a police officer making a routine traffic stop.  Starr moves between the world of the neighborhood, Garden Heights, and the suburbs where she attends school and where her uncle, a detective, and her aunt, a surgeon, live in a gated community.  Starr’s mother works at a clinic in the neighborhood.  Her father, a former member of the Kings, for whom he did time, owns a neighborhood grocery store.  They are committed to Garden Heights, despite the tragedies their daughter has endured.  Starr becomes the star witness testifying in front of a grand jury deciding whether the officer who killed Khalil would be charged.  As she processes her feelings about the murder, she is awakened as an activist and is forced to bring her two worlds, the neighborhood and the surburb, together.

The Hate U Give is powerful.  Starr’s story boldly tackles issues that have become taboo in too many circles.  Thomas’ characters are not political cartoons.  They are as complex and frustrating and sympathetic and unforgettable.  My daughter was right. This one is a must.

Finished 2/18

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Little Fires Everywhere–Celeste Ng

little fires everywhere

Stress and Netflix took me from reading for awhile, but my reading muscles are working overtime to catch up–traditional reading and audio reading.

I absolutely loved Everything I Never Told You.  Some of its passages took my breath away.  Little Fires Everywhere returns Ng’s interesting female characters for a  deep dive into what it means to be a woman–with women in middle age, adolescence, and infancy dominating the plot.  Mia Warren is a thirty-something single mother and artist who has traveled the country with her teenage daughter, Pearl.  Their address changes each time Mia finishes a project and needs new inspiration, but Mia has promised Pearl this time, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, they will stay. They rent an apartment in the Richardson’s “Winslow House,” and Pearl is soon a regular fixture in the Richardson household.  Two sons, two daughters, Mr. Richardson a lawyer, Mrs. Richardson a journalist for the local paper.  Moody is an artsy moody type.  Trip is a star athlete.  Lexi is popular and smart, soon Yale-bound.  The youngest, Iggy, is the rebel constantly drawing the ire of her mother, who had converted hear fear for the preemie Iggy into ongoing critique.  Mrs. Richardson expresses satisfaction with her orderly symmetrical life, but allows moments of curiosity about her potential career if she had left Shaker Heights.

Soon Pearl is following Lexi and Iggy is trailing Mia, whom Mrs. Richardson has coopted into cooking and cleaning the Richardson home.  Mia’s confidence and relentless pursuit of her art and nonchalance about the accumulation of status and material objects strike Mrs. Richardson to her core and leads her to investigate Mia’s mysterious roots.  Her journalistic investigative spirit blinds her to the goings on in her own home, particularly her daughters’ struggles toward adulthood.  Add in a custody battle between a rich white couple and a poor Chinese single mother and Ng’s mix of mothers, daughters, sexuality, and women’s selfhood is complete.

Jennifer Lim’s narration alongside Ng’s smooth prose makes this an easy listen.

Finished 2/17/18