The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give Characters

The main characters in The Hate U Give include Starr Carter, Khalil Harris, and Maverick Carter.

  • Starr Carter, the novel’s narrator, is a Black high school student at a mostly white prep school. After witnessing an act of police brutality, she resolves to speak out against injustice.
  • Khalil Harris is a childhood friend of Starr’s who is killed by a police officer. His murder sparks protest and gains national attention.
  • Maverick Carter is Starr’s father. A former member of the King Lords gang, he owns a general store and is protective of his family.

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Starr Carter

Starr is the sixteen-year-old protagonist of The Hate U Give. She lives in Garden Heights, a mostly Black neighborhood ridden with gang activity, but she and her brothers attend a private, mostly White prep school across town called Williamson Prep. Starr is intelligent, driven, and, at the outset of the novel, ashamed of her background in Garden Heights. Near the beginning of the novel, Starr is the sole witness to her friend Khalil’s unprovoked shooting at the hands of a White police officer. The book follows Starr’s struggles as she comes to terms with Khalil’s death and navigates the two opposing worlds of her home and school. Starr courageously testifies against the officer and speaks up for justice in the face of opposition from both the local authorities, who take the side of the police officer, and the King Lords gang, whom she angers in a television interview. In the end, she accepts her background in Garden Heights and vows to keep speaking up for justice.

Kenya 

Kenya is Starr’s childhood friend and attends a Garden Heights house party with her at the beginning of the book. Kenya and Starr have stayed in touch even after Starr left for Williamson Prep because they share a brother, Seven. Seven shares Starr’s father and Kenya’s mother. 

Khalil Harris

While feeling out of place at a house party in Garden Heights, Starr runs into Khalil, a childhood friend with whom she shared her first kiss a few years prior. She is pleased to see Khalil, and they leave the party together when gunshots ring out. After being pulled over while driving by officer Brian Cruise Jr. (One-Fifteen), Khalil is ordered out of the car. When he moves to check on Starr, the officer fatally shoots him.

When the news of Khalil’s death breaks, the police, news stations, and students at Starr’s school twist the story and present Khalil in an unsympathetic light because he was a known drug dealer. At Khalil’s funeral, King places a gray bandana on his casket, signifying that he was a member of the King Lords. However, Starr learns that Khalil only sold drugs to pay off his mother’s debt, and King claimed Khalil was a member of his gang because he was embarrassed that Khalil had turned down his invitation to join. Starr and the Black community know Khalil to be innocent, but he is denied justice in the end, and the officer who shoots him faces no charges.

Officer Brian Cruise Jr. (One-Fifteen)

Officer Brian Cruise Jr.—whom Starr refers to by his badge number, One-Fifteen—pulls Khalil and Starr over after they leave the party. He shoots Khalil three times, killing him, and later claims to have mistaken Khalil’s hairbrush for a gun. A grand jury decides there isn’t enough evidence to charge him despite Starr’s testimony. 

Seven Carter

Seven is Starr’s older half-brother. He attends Williamson Prep with her but primarily lives with Iesha, his mother, in order to help and protect her and his sisters from the abuse of King, Iesha’s boyfriend and the leader of the King Lords gang. Seven and Starr have a close relationship, especially following Khalil’s death.

Maverick Carter 

Maverick is Starr’s father, a former member of the King Lords who now operates a convenience store in Garden Heights. Maverick spent several years in prison after taking the blame for King for possessing weapons. 

Maverick is a protective husband and father and a strong advocate for Black Power. He is distrustful of the police and trains his children in how to behave if they ever are questioned by them....

(This entire section contains 1478 words.)

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He is initially unsupportive of Chris and Starr’s interracial relationship but eventually accepts Chris. Maverick originally claims that the suburbs are “fake” and objects to moving out of Garden Heights, but he moves his family to the suburbs in the end, realizing that they don’t have to live in Garden Heights in order to help the community there.

Lisa Carter 

Lisa is the mother of Starr and Sekani and a mother figure to Seven, her stepson. She initially worries about Starr testifying about Khalil’s death and wants to give her time to heal from the trauma, but she supports Starr when she decides to speak out. She wants to leave Garden Heights because of the danger of gang violence and eventually convinces Maverick of the necessity of moving. 

Sekani Carter

Sekani is Starr’s younger brother. He attends Williamson Prep with her and is shielded from the details surrounding Khali’s death and many other events of the novel. Maverick gives Sekani the same talk about the police that he gave to Starr when she was younger after Sekani and Starr witnessed Maverick being patted down by the police. 

Chris 

Chris is Starr’s boyfriend. He is White, lives in Riverton Hills, and attends Williamson Prep with Starr. Chris and Starr get along well, but the interracial aspect of their relationship and their vastly different experiences create difficulties for them, particularly after Starr witnesses Khalil’s death. Chris reassures Starr that the interracial nature of their relationship doesn’t bother him and that he loves her, even after he learns the details of her childhood and family life. He is supportive of Starr and accompanies her to Garden Heights during the violent protests that follow the grand jury results.

DeVante

DeVante is one of Seven’s friends and a member of the King Lords who wants to leave the gang after King orders him to kill some rival gang members. DeVante knows he will be killed by the rival gang if he follows this order. He also steals money from King to purchase bus tickets for his family and is kicked out by his mother because she fears his presence will endanger his sisters. At the end of the novel, when King is arrested, DeVante offers to give evidence of King’s drug dealing to the police so that King will be kept in jail and out of Garden Heights for a longer time. 

Hailey Grant

Hailey is one of Starr’s friends from Williamson Prep. Starr begins to be suspicious of their friendship when Hailey unfollows her blog because of a post about Emmett Till that Starr reblogged. She makes racist comments to Starr and Maya, including a remark about fried chicken to Starr, although she denies being racist. When Hailey suggests that Khalil deserved to be shot because he was a drug dealer, Starr punches her. Hailey texts Starr later to apologize but doesn’t actually assume responsibility for her racist comments. Starr deletes Hailey’s phone number from her contacts and ends the relationship.

Maya Yang

Maya is one of Starr’s closest Williamson Prep friends. Maya is Asian American and has been insulted by Hailey as well; she and Starr form an alliance to deal with Hailey and her hurtful, racist behaviors.

King

King is a Garden Heights drug dealer and the leader of the King Lords gang. He released Maverick from his gang after Maverick took the blame for King for possessing weapons and spent three years in jail as a result. He is abusive toward the women in his family, including Seven’s mother, Iesha, and beats up Devante. King is angered when Starr discusses gang business and mentions him in her interview, although she doesn’t name him directly. King burns down Maverick’s store during the Garden Heights riots in revenge, and he is arrested after residents of the neighborhood identify him as the arsonist. 

Iesha

Iesha is King’s girlfriend, as well as the mother of Seven, Kenya, and Lyric. Seven considers her unsupportive and unloving because she often seems to put her relationship with King before her family’s safety. Iesha demonstrates love for her children in the end by distracting King so that Seven and his friends can flee their house undetected.

Uncle Carlos

Carlos is a police officer and Starr's uncle, Lisa’s brother. He grew up in Garden Heights but now resides in Riverton Hills. When Maverick was in prison, Carlos helped raise Starr and became a father figure to her. He is fiercely protective of his sister and her children, and he encourages Starr to speak with a district attorney about Khalil’s shooting.

April Ofrah

Ms. Ofrah is a lawyer and an activist in the Black community who encourages Starr to share her story. She arranges an anonymous television interview for Starr, allows her to address an angry Garden Heights crowd with her megaphone following the grand jury verdict, and assists the teens in fleeing from the escalating violence. She eventually tells Starr she sees a future in activism for her.

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