Monday, 24 April 2017

REVIEW: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Pages: 438
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: April 6th 2017
Buy The Book: A Great Read - Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice.

My Thoughts:
The Hate U Give follows Starr as her life completely changes after she witnesses her best friend get shot down and murdered by a white police officer. What follows is her struggle to fight for justice for Khalil and make sure he's remembered in the right way. The desperately sad fact about this story is that whilst Starr and Khalil are fictional characters, their situation is a harsh reality that occurs far too often in our society.

Compelling, powerful, and important are only some of the words that are floating around in my brain as I try to describe why this book is so amazing but, honestly, my words don't do it justice. The characters in this story are just so real and believable. I challenge you not to feel for Starr and her family, and what they have to deal with in their everyday lives. Though the subject matter is serious and important, the moments between Starr and her family were precious, heart-warming, and often funny. They all had so much life and a lot of love for each other, and it came across beautifully on the page. It was also interesting to see how Starr began to mix the two different sides of her life that she'd struggled to keep separate for so many years.

One character who frustrated me throughout this book was Hailey, but she exists to make readers feels that way. She's someone who says stupid things without thinking, and definitely doesn't recognise her own privilege. The sad thing is that there are many Haileys out there who can't even see how they're hurting and offending people with their words. So whilst her ignorance left me annoyed, it's important to show that Starr had to deal with attitudes like that.

The Hate U Give is a book that not only educates, but also inspires. It's about standing up and doing something, even though you might be afraid. Starr's journey to finding her own voice was a painful yet beautiful one, and seeing her determination grow throughout the story was brilliant. It also opened my eyes to things I wasn't as aware of as I should have been, and I'm so grateful to this book for doing that.

It's quite difficult for me to talk about everything that I want to without delving into spoilers, so I'll probably revisit this book for a video discussion at some point. I know a lot of readers, me included, can be a little skeptical of books that are surrounded by hype, but this is one of those books that earns the buzz. Relevant and raw, this is a story that shines a light on the situations like this that are still painfully common today.

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

BLOG TOUR: Review of 'Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined' by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: April 6th 2017
Buy The Book: A Great Read - Book Depository
Ingrid has made a deal with her mother: she gets to go to the school of her choice as long as she completes a three-week wilderness programme. But when Ingrid arrives, she quickly realizes there has been a terrible mistake: there will be no marshmallows or cabins here. Instead, her group will embark on a torturous trek, with almost no guidance from the two counsellors and supplied with only the things they can carry. On top of this, the other teen participants are “at risk youth”, a motley crew of screw-ups, lunatics and delinquents. But as the laborious days go by, and as memories of her complicated past come flooding back, Ingrid must confront the question of whether she shares more in common with these troubled teens than she’s willing to admit.

My Thoughts:
Ingrid is taking part in Peak Wilderness on a promise. If she completes the trip, she gets to go to the school of her dreams in England. But Peak Wilderness isn't anything like how Ingrid expected it to be. What she thought would be cabins and fun, outdoor activities were actually harsh nights of camping and brutal days of hiking. The story follows Ingrid as she struggles to make it through the difficult three weeks with a bunch of strangers who are all there for very different reasons.

What I particularly loved about this story was the various ways in which it was told. We got to jump between the past and present to gradually get the whole picture as to how and why Ingrid ended up at Peak Wilderness, and then there were the letters. Throughout the book, Ingrid writes letters that she never intends to send, but help her get her feelings out, putting them all onto the page. This variety in the storytelling kept things interesting and also kept me guessing as to what events had occurred in Ingrid's past.

Ingrid herself was a wonderful character to read about. Despite the situation she'd found herself thrown into, she managed to find determination to get through the difficult days. It was interesting to see how she reacted to the other characters and to watch her opinions of them change over time. She had a bit of everything to offer with her sarcasm, her wit, and her strength that grew throughout the book. Her turbulent relationship with her mother was heartbreaking but also beautiful at times. The writing really drove home the sadness and desperation that follows a career in the spotlight being pulled from right beneath a person's feet.

I'll admit that I'm difficult to please when it comes to romance in contemporary stories, so I was happy to see that the romantic relationships in this book didn't have any typically cheesy instalove attached to it. It wasn't what I expected, so I was pleasantly surprised! The journey that Ingrid and the other characters had to endure was gritty and tough, but I felt a sense of pride as they grew stronger through it. The secondary characters were all interesting in their own right, and it actually made me interested to learn more about them outside of Ingrid's story.

Whilst this book undoubtedly had it's more tragic elements, there was a sense of hope and determination underneath it all. With several issues being discussed, this story is a powerful one and these characters aren't easily forgettable. 

Royal Rating:


Be sure to check out the other blogs taking part in the blog tour this week:

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