Book Discussion Questions
Malden Reads is pleased to provide a list of thought-provoking discussion questions for “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas to use in your own book club or with your own circle of family and friends. We also encourage you to share with us your thoughts, insights and comments about the book!
- What was your overall reaction to this book? What did you like/not like about it?
- As Starr & Khalil listen to Tupac, Khalil explains what Tupac said “Thug Life” meant. Discuss the meaning of the term “Thug Life” and why author Angie Thomas used the first part as the title of her book. In what ways do you see this manifested in society?
- Starr shares that her parents gave her and her older brother the “talk” – specifically about what to do when encountering a police officer. Have you had that same talk with your parents or have you given it to your children? Reflect on why or why not.
- Discuss Starr’s neighborhood. How is it described in negative terms? What are examples of the positives in her neighborhood? How does Starr feel about her neighborhood and how does it compare to her uncle’s neighborhood? How do you think she feels when her family moves at the end of the story?
- Starr often refers to the process of “code switching” (“hood” Starr vs. Williamson Starr). What are some examples of this? Why is code switching necessary to her survival in both worlds? Do you ever need to code switch in your life?
- Discuss the character of Starr’s Dad. In what ways does he fit the stereotype of a “thug”? In what ways does he defy that stereotype?
- The police, the media, and some of Starr’s friends refer to Khalil’s background of drug and gang activity whenever the case is discussed. Is this fair and/or relevant?
- Discuss the role of social media in the book, both as a way of sharing information about instances of police brutality and, on a personal level, in Starr’s life?
- Discuss Seven’s position in the family. What kind of relationship does Starr have with Seven? How does he fit in to her friendship with Kenya? What kind of role does Seven’s mom, Aiesha, play in Starr’s family life?
- How is Aiesha portrayed at the beginning of the story when we meet her at Khalil’s funeral? How does the way she is portrayed change over the course of the book?
- Discuss how the book references MLK, Malcolm X & the Black Panthers. How does these references to leaders/groups that espouse different forms of activism (nonviolent vs. “by any means necessary”) play out in the story, especially after the decision is announced?
- Discuss the character of Chris, Starr’s white boyfriend. How does his presence in her life impact her family relationships?
- How does the heroin addiction of Brenda, Khalil’s mother, impact the story? Discuss the roles of drugs in Starr’s neighborhood. Does it differ in any way from drug abuse in wealthier neighborhoods?
- What is the function of gang life in Starr’s neighborhood? Why are kids drawn to gang life?
- What role do guns play in the story? How do you feel about that?
- Why does Starr keep her role as a witness a secret for so long? How and why does she come to the decision to finally use her voice?
- Why do you think this book is winning lots of awards and getting so much attention?
- What other current media (movies, books, TV, plays, etc.) are playing out similar themes? What role can these media portrayals play in the evolution of our culture?
- Discuss how you and/or your community might be working to address inequality or issues of social justice.
- Share thoughts, insights & comments from your book discussion! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or post on social media. Include a photo if you’d like!
Teenagers from Malden High School read “The Hate U Give” after hearing a talk by author Angie Thomas in Harvard Square.
The Senior Center book club has read every Malden Reads selection. This photo taken during Year 1 of Malden Reads (“The Soloist” by Steve Lopez).
Members of a book discussion group held during Year 2 of Malden Reads. “Outcasts United” by Warren St. John