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Hush Summary

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Hush is narrated by Toswiah Green, a thirteen-year-old girl who was recently living happily in Denver, Colorado, with her father, mother, and sister, Cameron. When her police officer father witnessed an unjust shooting, the Green family entered the federal witness protection program.

Officer Jonathan Green was on patrol with his two partners when they encountered an African American youth. The other officers, both white men, fired at the boy while he was standing still with his hands raised in surrender. After the boy died, members of the police department instructed Officer Green to lie about what he had seen and testify that the other officers were right to open fire. He faced significant pressure, including nasty phone calls and death threats. One night, someone drove by and fired three bullets into his house. Officer Green knew it was wrong to change his story, and he refused to lie about what he had seen, even though his choice put his family at risk.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) placed the Green family in protective custody. Agents escorted them from their home in the middle of the night, placed them in a windowless van, and drove them to a safe house. For three months, they lived in an undisclosed location, and their whereabouts were unknown even to them. After the trial ended, the Greens moved to a new city and assumed new identities. Toswiah Green became Evie Thomas, and her older sister Cameron became Anna.

Evie narrates the novel from her family’s new location in the witness protection program. She never reveals the name of the city to which they have moved. Her present narration is intermixed with flashbacks that dramatize the events leading up to her current situation and vignettes that convey images from her past life.

In their new life, everything is different. The “Thomas” family struggles with the abruptness and permanence of the changes they have experienced. Evie’s father can no longer be a police officer, so he sits all day by the window, too sad to look for another job. His depression casts a pall over the family. The FBI stalls processing Mrs. Thomas’s paperwork for teaching, so she is also unable to obtain a new job. Instead, she devotes her energy to her new faith as a Jehovah’s Witness. Anna applies and is accepted to Simon’s Rock, a college that will allow her to start attending before she even graduates from high school.

Evie struggles to exist in her new school setting. She tells her classmates that her family is from San Francisco, but she misses her old friends and her grandmother terribly. She tries out for the track team, and she gradually begins making friends. Life at home is not easy. Her father’s depression overcomes him, and one morning in front of his...

(The entire section is 687 words.)