Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forceFive months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.
The first of five selections for our summer 2017 study of Young Adult books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is an up-close look at how one 16-year-old girl and her community are impacted when her friend is killed by a police officer.
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Here is my video reflection, followed by a few notes:
- I think this is an incredibly important book that can be used as a springboard for talking about race relations, law enforcement, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
- I appreciated the fact that we get to know characters who are so often represented by stereotypes. I appreciated the opportunity to get to know people like DeVante and Khalil and hear the stories of how they ended up getting involved with gangs and selling drugs, which painted a much more complex, nuanced picture of how some young people end up doing these things.
- I wish there could have been more discussion of the rioting, and of the characters’ understanding of it. Thomas helps us understand other complex issues by having the adult characters explain things to Starr, but I felt like the riots weren’t explored enough, and this is an issue that I think white America still needs help understanding.
- I wonder how teachers might address concerns from students and families who see the book as biased, or who feel more sympathetic to officer one-fifteen? Some students (and teachers) may relate more to characters like Hailey…how do we address this in our classrooms in a way that helps everyone grow?
- I would also like to know how you would address the profanity and sex in the book, which was not graphic but still present? How do you all handle this in regard to letting students read these books and responding to objections from parents? What age would be appropriate for reading this book?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Be respectful of other people’s opinions; the subject matter of this book will bring up strong opinions and feelings, and everyone is encouraged to share honestly, but any comments that are abusive toward other commenters will be removed.