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.
Thanks Walker Books for sending me an arc of THUG to review!
I finally got around to reading this! The tagline on the arc I own is, “the book that everyone’s talking about” and it couldn’t be more right. I haven’t heard a single person say a bad thing about this book and it has an average 4.7 star rating on Goodreads! I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to read this heartbreaking yet important story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
I freekin’ love Starr! She is such a complex character with a really vivid personality which made her much more interesting to read about. She has a lot going on in her life, but she doesn’t let that define her; she is more than the problems in the book which made her a relatable character.
I also loved how the book had a big focus on family. YA books with characters that have amazing support networks and loving families that are just as kick-ass as the main character are what we need more of – and THUG has all of that! Her parents are strong and stand up for themselves and what they believe in, and this definitely rubs off on Starr and her siblings (honourable mention to Seven!). I just loved all the characters in this book… okay? I don’t even have the words to talk about them.
Even all the side characters were interesting to read about and had their own stories and complexities. They weren’t just there for the sake of it; each and everyone of them added to the story. Chris, Starr’s white boyfriend is incredibly supportive of Starr and they are adorable together. However, I loved how the book barely focused on their romance (because that’s not what this story is about) and instead focused on Starr feeling like she is betraying herself and her race by dating a white boy. Maya, Starr’s Asian best friend, is also incredibly kick ass and it was interesting to hear her side of racism also. And then there’s Starr’s racist friend, (Hailey I think her name is???) and I’m pretty sure we all wanted to punch her in the face as well (Starr… we don’t blame you), but you can’t deny that she does add a lot to the story and I think it was a vital part.
A lot of the scenes in this book were heartbreaking to read, but it is so important as well. These things are happening in our world – this is basically a work of non-fiction – and we need to open our eyes. It’s so easy for us to hear things like this happen on the news and think. “oh, that’s terrible” but not do anything about it. Just because it’s not happening to us, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do something to help stop it.
Despite the heartbreaking scenes that made me want to cry, there was also a lot of humour in the book which was nice. So many times I found myself laughing at the jokes and interactions between Starr and her family especially, and her friends. So despite the touching focus of the story, it does have it’s light and lifting side as well.
Also, the ending gave me goosebumps. It was a nice ending to everything that happened throughout the story, but it wasn’t completely resolved, and that’s because it isn’t completely resolved in the real world either. But there’s hope that one day the world will be a much more peaceful and opening place, and Starr highlights this one the final page.
This is an incredible and important story that I think everyone should read (I will definitely be recommending it to my friends and family). I do think it’s a bit on the long side for a YA contemporary, but apart from that I cannot fault it. READ THIS NOW! I wish I had sooner.