Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor 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, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. 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 upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
This book has been getting A LOT of press and positive reviews as of late and this librarian can see why. It is a really fitting tale to go with the tense race relations and socio-econimic issues that we often see and hear about in the news today. Starr is a young lady who inhabits two very different worlds, one inhabited by her black childhood friends and neighbors who have known her and her family forever and one that consists of her upper middle class suburban classmates (most of whom are white, but not all). Because of these worlds being so far removed, Starr has often felt the need to adhere to sets of rules for each "life" in order to best fit in to each situation, but events outside of her control cause her to reevaluate her life and how best to stand up for not only herself, but for others who can no longer speak.
Starr is a great character who is so believable and genuine-honestly I think folks from any background can relate to her feelings of not quite being able to be 100% herself. Her parents and siblings have interactions that feel very real and matter of fact and the story never shys away from subjects and topics that are both stark, angry, and raw without being overpowering and making the reader want to stop. One of my favorite portions of the story has to be when Starr, her brother Seven, boyfriend Chris, and DeVante are one their way to Starr and Seven's father's grocery store in order to help protect it from looters during a riot. While driving, the characters all freely speak on race, asking questions and having an open dialog.
If you're in the market for something realistic and taken right from the headlines, you owe it to yourself to check this title out!