What if all of Malden read the same book?
For the eighth year of Malden’s popular “One City, One Book” program, the committee chose The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The novel debuted at the top of The New York Times young adult bestseller list, recently won the Boston Globe Horn Book award, is a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and landed on the long list for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in our Stars, states, “Angie Thomas has written a stunning, brilliant, gut-wrenching novel that will be remembered as a classic of our time.”
The Hate U Give tells the story of 16-year old Starr Carter, who straddles two worlds. She lives with her family in an urban black neighborhood that wrestles with problems of gang violence, drug addiction and poverty, while attending a private school 40 minutes away in a predominantly white, wealthy community. In the opening chapter, she leaves a party in her neighborhood with Khalil, a childhood friend. They are pulled over while driving and, although neither has done anything wrong, the situation unravels and Khalil is shot and killed by the police officer. Starr is the only witness.
Publishers Weekly writes, “Though Thomas’s story is heartbreakingly topical, its greatest strength is in its authentic depiction of a teenage girl, her loving family, and her attempts to reconcile what she knows to be true about their lives with the way those lives are depicted—and completely undervalued—by society at large.” Kirkus reviews writes, “With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.”
Author Angie Thomas is a young African American woman who holds a BFA in creative writing. She is a former teen rapper, who was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi. This is her first novel. The Hate U Give is currently in production as a feature length movie.
“It’s great to be able to share and discuss a book across generations,” says Sean Walsh, an English and drama teacher at Malden High School, who was one of the individuals who proposed the book to the Malden Reads selection committee. “This is currently a very popular book with teens, but it’s also a riveting and enriching read for adults.”
The Malden Reads selection process was a thoughtful, deliberative and cooperative one. This is the second time in eight years that a young adult novel was chosen as the main book selection. (The first was in 2013 with The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie.)
The committee wrestled with choosing a book with such sensitive and potentially divisive subject matter. But ultimately the engaging readability, the strength of the story and authenticity of the writing won the day. There was eventual consensus among the group that this year’s book can provide a springboard for thoughtful and civil dialogue in the community on topics that are nationally and locally important. The Hate U Give sensitively deals with many topics, not only the difficult issue of racial profiling and police brutality, but today’s adolescent world, racial and economic inequality, addiction, the role of social media, the complexity of family relationships, overcoming adversity, and what it takes to stand up for what one believes in.
The group reached out to the Police Chief Kevin Molis of the Malden Police Department before choosing the book to offer the opportunity for any input or concerns. Malden Reads wanted to assure the police force, whose leadership has always shown great support for the One City, One Book program, that this choice was not reflective of particular concerns with the city’s force, but that it offered opportunities to engage in constructive dialogue on what has become a national issue. The Police Chief was understanding of the choice and is open to participation in upcoming programming.
“The two-fold mission of Malden Reads is to promote reading and build community,” says Linda Zalk, a founding member of the Malden Reads committee. “So our goal is to facilitate constructive dialog and discussion that ultimately makes us a stronger community.”
Programming related to The Hate U Give will begin in February 2018. Opportunities for conversation on the book and related themes will be offered through book discussions, film screenings and special presentations. In addition, Malden Reads will continue to host fun and inclusive events that build community, such as dinners at local restaurants, a free night at Boda Borg and stargazing on Waitt’s Mount. Companion books for younger readers will be announced soon, sparking a range of programming for children and families about what it’s like to “stand in someone else’s shoes.” Malden Reads will continue to outreach local groups to collaborate with and co-host events.
Books will be available for purchase through The Book Oasis, an independent bookstore in Stoneham, as well as at the Malden Pops Up Gallery Gift Shop in Malden beginning November 16 at 480 Main St. The Malden Public Library will have copies for borrowing in various formats. The book selection committee will also provide a companion list of other suggested readings that will help to enrich the discussion of the book’s topics and themes.
The Malden Reads committee looks forward to deepening connections in the Malden community in 2018. For more information about Malden Reads, visit www.maldenreads.org. To contact the committee or be added to the email list, please email email@example.com.
(Click below to enjoy a retrospective slideshow of select images from Malden Reads.)
Book discussion questions for “The Hate U Give” available by clicking here.