The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give Summary

The Hate U Give is a 2017 young adult novel about Starr Carter, a teenager who witnesses the killing of her friend Khalil by a police officer.

  • Starr and Khalil are pulled over by a police officer, called One-Fifteen, after leaving a party in Garden Heights. One-Fifteen shoots and kills Khalil.
  • Khalil’s case gains national attention, sparking protests in Garden Heights and at Williamson Prep, Starr’s school. Starr testifies before a grand jury, but the charges against One-Fifteen are dropped.
  • After protesting with her friends and community, Starr inwardly promises Khalil that she will continue to speak out against injustice.

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Introduction

The Hate U Give is a young adult novel written by Angie Thomas and published in 2017. It was a number-one New York Times Best Seller, made the 2017 National Book Award Longlist, and was adapted into a movie in 2018. The book’s setting, events, and characters are largely inspired by Thomas’s own life: the struggle of the protagonist, Starr Carter, to come to terms with her identities and with the fatal shooting of her friend Khalil reflect Thomas’s own experiences after the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. 

Plot Summary

The Hate UGive opens with the protagonist, Starr Carter, attending a party in her neighborhood, Garden Heights. Starr is a sixteen-year-old high school student who attends a prestigious prep school across town. She lives with her father, Maverick; her mother, Lisa; and her brother, Sekani; her half-brother Seven often stays with them. Starr is Black and feels out of place both in Garden Heights and at Williamson Prep: at home, she feels she no longer fits in, and at school, she is one of the few Black students in a mostly White student body. At the party, Starr sees her friend Khalil (with whom she shared her first kiss a few years prior), and they discuss Garden Heights and their families. From her conversations with Khalil, Starr realizes that he has likely been involved in drug dealing. This fact is confirmed later in the story, although Khalil only sold drugs to help pay off his mother’s debt. When shots ring out at the party, Starr leaves with Khalil.

Khalil and Starr chat and listen to music in Khalil’s car but are interrupted by a police siren. Starr immediately recalls a talk her father once gave her about how to act around policemen: she should do what they tell her and avoid making any sudden movements. The police officer pulls Khalil and Starr over. 

The police officer asks Khalil for his documents, but Khalil asks why he was pulled over. Remembering instructions from her father that she should always take note of police officers’ badge numbers in interactions with them, Starr notes that this officer is “one-fifteen.” Khalil grows impatient, and the officer tells him to get out of the car and put his hands where they can be seen. One-Fifteen, as Starr mentally refers to him, pats Khalil down and finds nothing.

One-Fifteen orders Khalil and Starr not to move and starts to return to his car, but Khalil moves to the door to check on Starr. One-Fifteen shoots him three times. The officer then orders Starr not to move when she tries to help Khalil. An ambulance arrives, but they can’t save Khalil. Starr’s parents arrive to take her home.

Starr is haunted by Khalil’s death and has a nightmare about it. Her uncle Carlos, a police officer, wants her to go to the police to give her statement; her parents worry about her safety if she testifies and want to give her time to recover. Starr eventually agrees to testify and gives her account of the story at the police station one day after school. 

At school, Starr pretends not to have known Khalil. Her relationship with her boyfriend, Chris, grows tense, and she notices her classmates’ microaggressions and racist comments. The Garden Heights neighborhood begins to stir, infuriated by what happened to Khalil. Starr attends Khalil’s funeral, and a lawyer named April Ofrah approaches Starr; Ms. Ofrah hopes to help Starr speak out and wants to give Khalil’s case national attention. 

A young member of the King Lords gang named DeVante meets...

(This entire section contains 1259 words.)

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Starr and Maverick on their way back from the convenience store one day and informs them that he is hiding from King, the leader of the King Lords. DeVante asks Maverick how he escaped gang life, as he was once a member of the King Lords; Maverick explains that he took the blame when police arrested him and King for possessing weapons and was taken to prison as a result, leaving King indebted to him. King’s debt to Maverick made it possible for Maverick to leave the gang. Maverick decides to help DeVante leave, too.

The police department decides to not charge One-Fifteen with anything, based on “the evidence as well as the statement given by the witness.” Starr hears about this verdict on the news and blames herself for the local unrest, as well as the lack of charges against the officer. The news begins to gain national attention, and Starr must face the fact that some people—including her friend Hailey—think that the shooting was justified because Khalil sold drugs. Starr’s identity as a witness to his death remains unknown to her classmates, including her boyfriend, Chris.  

Students at Williamson join in protests for Khalil and “act like [Starr is] the official representative of the black race,” constantly feeling as if they have to justify their participation in protests to her; the boy who organized one protest did so only to get out of class. Starr and Chris don’t attend this protest but stay in class. Starr meets with Ms. Ofrah, who suggests that Starr give an anonymous television interview about Khalil. Ms. Ofrah informs her that One-Fifteen claims he thought a hairbrush Khalil had in the car was a gun.

Starr gives her testimony to the District Attorney; a grand jury is convening to determine if One-Fifteen should face charges. She also gives an anonymous interview on television. Chris sees the interview with the “anonymous witness” to Khalil’s death on the news and recognizes Starr’s voice. When he asks her about it, she confirms that she is the witness and tells him the truth about her childhood growing up in the projects. Chris reassures her that he accepts her, and they confess their love for each other.

Starr testifies to the grand jury. Ultimately, it is decided that One-Fifteen will not face charges, and riots in Garden Heights ensue. Seven, Chris, DeVante, and Starr make their way to the riots to protest. While driving, Seven, DeVante, and Starr explain to Chris that the projects they are passing through are where Starr grew up. 

The group of teens, Ms. Ofrah, and other community members are involved in an altercation with the police: the police throw canisters of tear gas at the crowd, and Starr throws one back at them. When the cops swarm the crowd, the teens head for a waiting bus to escape. The riots have become violent, and Garden Heights experiences looting and property destruction. Starr and the others are trapped in Maverick’s convenience store when it catches fire but manage to escape. 

King confronts Starr and her family; in revenge for Starr mentioning his drug dealing and gang activity in her interview—though she never explicitly named him—King set fire to the convenience store. When the police and fire department arrive, neighbors who witnessed the arson identify King as the culprit, and King is arrested. DeVante offers to testify against King in order to keep him in jail and out of Garden Heights for a longer period of time.

Starr puts the shame she previously felt toward Garden Heights and her background behind her and accepts both her Garden Heights and Williamson Prep identities. The novel ends with her promise to Khalil that people aren’t forgetting him and her declaration that she won’t be silent, but will continue speaking out.

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