The movie trailer for the adaptation of the bestselling novel, The Hate U Give, has brought two successful black women to the forefront: author Angie Thomas and actress Amandla Stenberg.
The Hate U Give is a breakout young adult novel that follows Starr Carter, a teenager who struggles to balance her two selves. While Starr comes from a working-class neighborhood with a largely African-American population, she also plays basketball for her predominantly white prep school. When she witnesses her childhood friend Khalil being shot and killed by a police officer, Starr must come to terms with these two seemingly contradictory worlds.
The novel, written by Angie Thomas, deals with relevant topics and brings realistic, relatable characters to life. Its ability to illuminate the realities of police brutality and racism while promoting activism and the Black Lives Matter movement in a novel aimed largely at American teenagers has not gone unnoticed.
HarperCollins published The Hate U Give in February of 2017. The novel has won an array of awards since its release, from the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction to the Audie Award for Best Female Narrator. According to Angie Thomas’ website, the book has received starred reviews from eight literary journals, which is an uncommonly high number of reviews for a young adult novel. The novel was also nominated for the 2017 National Book Award.
The #1 New York Time Best Seller was written by 30-year-old Angie Thomas, a Mississippi native with a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University. The Hate U Give was initially written as a reaction to a shooting that took place while Thomas was attending Belhaven. In 2009, a white police officer shot an unarmed, 22-year-old African-American man named Oscar Grant III on a train platform in Oakland, California. In an attempt to deal with the shock of this fatal shooting, Thomas wrote a short story about a teenage girl choosing to participate in activist groups after an officer shoots her best friend.
Thomas stated in The New York Times that she worried that her novel might be too “raw and polarizing” for young adult imprints. However, the book now had been printed over 100,000 times.
From critics to librarians to authors themselves, Thomas’ novel has garnered praise from all areas of the industry. The New York Times stated that the novel is a representation of the desire for young adult novels which broach difficult subjects such as racial profiling, and that provide voices from diverse backgrounds. Furthermore, The Hate U Give will be published in over 20 countries, and its significance in today’s culture continues to grow with its film adaptation.
Audrey Wells, the screenwriter for The Truth About Cats and Dogs, has adapted the novel for the screen. The film will be directed by Soul Food’s George Tillman, Jr.
Amandla Stenberg has been cast in the film’s starring role. Stenberg has made a name for herself in film adaptations of young adult novels. As stated in The New York Times, Stenberg made her big debut as the beloved character Rue in the 2012 film adaptation of The Hunger Games. Last year, she continued to engage audiences by starring in Everything, Everything.
The Hate U Give’s supporting cast is strong as well, featuring talents such as Common in the role of Starr’s protective yet conflicted uncle and Anthony Mackie as a menacing criminal. The co-creator and star of “Insecure,” Issa Rae, will play an activist who encourages Starr to speak up for what she believes in.
With a knack for developing well-loved book characters for the big screen, Stenberg is sure to bring Starr to life while maintaining Thomas’s important messages for audiences worldwide.
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