Happy Spring Break for me and Bookworms #2 day for you! With a little more time in the past few days, I have not one, but two books to talk about today. Both of them tie into this idea of adolescence lost; neither quite by choice but in very different ways. Only the second book has been made into an Oscar winning motion picture, but The Hate U Give is not too far behind.
So without further ado, here’s what I’ve got for you.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
With its title taken influenced from Tupac Shakur in his song Thug Life, this book was everything you would expect it to be after reading a summary like this:
“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s supposed to. As a politically and emotionally charged novel, her words do more than give you a little insight into what’s behind movements like Black Lives Matter or even more recently, the March for Our Lives. Whether you advocate for more gun control or less, support the movements or couldn’t care less for them, this book is worth the read. Some things are said that needed to be spoken aloud, offensive to some or not. This book is honest, to the pain, the loss, the confusion, and the change that comes with discrimination, gun violence, and most of all, grief.
As her debut novel, Thomas has some truly incredible moments in her book, from plot twists to candid speeches on police cars. Each character she added allowed us to see a new side of the story, gave us a new set of shoes to step into. From families coming together to youth forced to grow up too quickly, there’s something in here that anyone can relate to— no matter your background or race.
Though there were some parts of the book that I felt were a little too slow towards the end or suddenly thrown in, I think for the storyline, overall it was a very well-done book and fantastic debut novel for Thomas. If you’ve ever thought about reading this but never got the chance, let me ask you this— if not now, when?
For more about Angie Thomas, check out her website here, and I hope you look into this book the next time you pass by a bookstore.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
I watched the movie first for this one, I know I know, I should never do that. But just like some of my favorite books, I can’t find a way to compare the two. Each was their own separate entity and the book was great, despite watching the movie first.
It’s been a while since I’ve read something like this– the movie might have left me feeling too much but the book… The book left me feeling nostalgic for something I’ve never had before.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting to read a book like this for a while.
For the people who don’t want to read anything R-rated, this is not the book for you. Because, let me tell you, if my parents stopped me from watching Grey’s Anatomy at 14, they would never have let me anywhere near Call Me By Your Name.
Yet, the explicit honestly of Aciman made it what it turned out to be. As a coming-of-age novel, he gives you the emotion, turbulence, passion, and devastation of a seventeen year old boy. And he portrayed it beautifully, at least from the perspective of a nineteen year old girl. If you’ve ever read the Catcher in the Rye, the style of this book is very similar. Through several stream of consciousness riffs and paragraphs that lead you from one to the next, you get inside Elio’s head and ultimately go through his experience with him.
Though this is a love story, a complicated one at that, some people criticized the glorification of pedophilia that many perceive the book to be. Though I’m not sure how I feel about that aspect or whether it was glorified, criticized, or disregarded as a whole, I think the age difference between Elio and summer guest Oliver was part of what added to conflict in Elio’s own head. It gave us the story, through to the very end.
I think the focus wasn’t actually on the love part at all, but on Elio and his need for something more than he had— his need to find himself somewhere in the chaos within the years to come. Whether you like love stories or not, this was about something bigger than that, bigger than what you might think it’s actually about. I hope you read it and see for yourself. Maybe watch the movie too, but second of course.
And thanks for reading my reviews, if there’s any book you want to hear about or anything you would like to see more (or less) of, feel free to let me know in the comments below!