Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor black 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.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at schools suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does – or does not – say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
This book is so good. I have not read a lot of YA this year; I loved it as a teen but haven’t felt drawn to it as of late. But this book is something everyone needs to read, YA readers or not.
First, Starr is so cool. What an amazing first person narrator: she is smart, vulnerable, and spunky. She makes mistakes. She tries again. She’s a true teenager with teenager struggles but she’s simultaneously enduring an experience no one ever deserves to have – not at sixteen, not ever. She is funny and topical (there is many a Harry Potter reference) but also naive. I didn’t want this book to end because I didn’t want to lose her as a friend.
At the same time, I raced through this book because I needed to know how it would be resolved. Whether or not justice would be served and, if so, by whom. This book takes the difficult-to-discuss topics of racism and police violence and lays it all out there. Through the first person narrative, the reader is thrown into the thick of it.
Read this book. That’s all I have to say. Just read it.
Interested in this book? Buy it on Amazon here or pick it up from your local bookstore.
And then go discuss on the Diverse Books Club’s Goodreads page here!