When I found out my first assigned book was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, I squealed because that was one of the best books I read in 2017, and I knew there were very few books it could be paired with that would prevent me from moving it on. Then I was assigned Warcross by Marie Lu. I’ve never been a huge fan of science fiction, especially gaming sci-fi, so I admittedly went into this competition knowing I would pick T.H.U.G. to win.
This is probably a librarian sin, but Warcross is the kind of book I’d rather see played out in a movie both because of the visual potential–Emika’s hair is rainbow-colored, and it’s not every day a book takes place in Tokyo–and also because it took at least half the book for any action to take place. I found myself wishing I was reading any of the books in my “to-read-right-now” stack instead of this one that took 150+ pages for me to get invested. Underwhelming, if you will.
With that said, one of the characters says, “Everything is science fiction before it’s science fact,” which was a satisfying reminder about why sci-fi can be such a worthwhile, imaginative genre. And I’m happy to have another book to recommend to students who are fans of Ready Player One and Ender’s Game. Ultimately, though, it was a choice between moving forward something relevant and poignant and something for the escapist.
I went with relevant and necessary. Because while reading to better understand the current state of the world and reading to escape it are both important and valid, T.H.UG. carries an immediacy. I want to get it into the hands of everyone, especially people who do not understand or choose to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement.
Due to a lengthy commute, I get most of “reading” in via audiobooks during the school year. While listening to The Hate U Give, I arrived at work in tears. Every. Day. For as many feelings I’ve had while reading over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever been moved to tears like this.
I’ll let Starr speak for herself:
“That’s the problem. We let people say stuff. And they say it so much that it becomes okay to them. And normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re going to be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
And the winner is…
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Ayse Liebovich is the librarian at Bartlett High School and also on the Steering Committee of the Lincoln Book Award. She continues to be overwhelmed by her neverending to-read list.