Review for We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos RuffinRead More
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017
Page Count: 444
First Sentence: "I shouldn't have come to this party."
Book Description: You know this book. I'm certain you've seen it somewhere on your social media feed or on the internet. I'm sure there are countless other websites out there reviewing and critiquing this, so while my review may not necessarily be needed, I feel compelled to share. All of the accolades on this one are warranted, and I want to share it with as many people as I can. The Hate U Give is a YA novel that tells the story of Starr Carter and her friend Khalil. Starr is black and lives in a poor area, but she and her brother attend a fancy, suburban, and predominantly white prep school in the suburbs. She has friends in both areas, but doesn't think that one side would understand the other. She feels she has to keep her two identities separate- she gets to be Washington Heights Starr at home and has to be prep school Starr at school. She doesn't want to come across as TOO this, too that, and in trying to compartmentalize herself she ends up not fully sharing herself with anyone. One night, she goes to a party. The party breaks out in a shooting and she runs from it with Khalil. When driving home, the two get pulled over by the police. Khalil is unarmed and cooperates with everything the officer asks, yet ultimately, Khalil gets shot and killed by the white police officer, leaving Starr as the main witness. All of this happens within the first two chapters. Khalil gets stereotyped by the media as a drug dealer and gangbanger, and as Starr says, gets tried for his own murder.
My thoughts: First off, I am so glad this is YA. Right off the bat this reminded me of a modern version To Kill a Mockingbird, in that the story is captivating and I know it will change some peoples' perspectives on race. I enjoyed reading about Starr trying to navigate her friendships with her white friends and black friends, and that she ultimately comes into her own and realizes that some friendships might not be worth holding on to. Being in an IRC myself, I loved that Starr had a white boyfriend. It was eye opening to me to see how she wrestled with it, almost feeling as though she was saying "f you" to the strong black men in her life. I hope this book will help readers young and old examine their ideas about at race, diversity, and white privilege. Starr is a character you will root for and want to wrestle with big issues with. The author did a fantastic job weaving current social/racial issues throughout the plot. Starr is shown code switching, they talk about the Black Lives Matter Movement, the war on drugs, interracial relationships, and more. This book is for everyone and I would love for it to be added to middle school/high school curriculum everywhere. It was not exploitative of the Black Lives Matter movement and current events, but presents several side to the story in a way we don't often get to see. We hear from Starr, the murdered boys' best friend, but we also get to see the outpouring of angst from the community and his family. Even though Khalil was killed by a police officer, this was not a vilification of the police. This story was against police officers that make bad decisions based on bias and limited information. The author made the choice to make Uncle Carlos, a father figure to Starr a police officer. In doing so she explores what it means to be a police officer, a person of color, and pro BLM in one. The book also gave us a glimpse of the struggles that some families face and what its like to try and break the cycle. There are so many more layers, and I would be happy to read this again and again. If you read How It Went Down, you would like this. (If you haven't read How It Went Down yet, do.)
Favorite Quote: "...'He was more than any bad decision he made,' he says. 'I hate that I let myself fall into that mind-set of trying to rationalize his death. And at the end of the day, you don't kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn't be a cop.'"
Rating: 5/5. I would recommend this to anyone. Really. Go out and get yourself a copy and then make everyone you know read it.
Have you read this? Did you love? I can't wait to read other people's thoughts about it.
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