Published by Balzer + Bray (2.28.2017)
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 444 pages
Source: I own it
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.
To be completely honest, I was worried going in that I would be the black sheep again because the hype for this book is U N R E A L. Thankfully, I wasn’t! For once, the hype is 100% justified. This book is so important, so impactful. It really makes you think about the world and how flawed it is. And honestly, this book got under my skin. I didn’t expect to care so much, because I am just not a contemporary person. But when I wasn’t listening to this book, I was thinking about it. I finished nearly 12 hours of audio in less than a week! That’s insane for me, because I only have a 10 minute drive to work and I don’t usually listen to audiobooks unless I’m in the car.
This book tackles racism and police brutality. It is important, impactful, and heartbreaking. It feels REAL. It’s fiction, and yes of course similar things have happened, but it felt like Starr Carter was a legit person and SHE was the one narrating. Bahni Turpin is INCREDIBLE!!
THE FAMILY IN THIS BOOK, YOU GUYS. I loved the strong sense of family that Starr had. She called her parents her OTP, and it’s probably the dumbest thing ever, but I actually teared up a little bit because it’s so beautiful and also because I 100% relate. My parents are my OTP, too.
The only issue I had is that Starr stayed when Chris when she so obviously had a problem with him being white. I’m white, so maybe I don’t understand; but I feel like if two people love each other, then race, gender, religion, etc. shouldn’t be an issue. I dated a biracial man and the thought never crossed my mind. If anyone judged us for being together, I never noticed. I also always lived in a quiet suburb where all races are mixed peacefully and no one seems to notice skin color. I do come from a background of white privilege. I’ve never lived somewhere where it was normal to hear gunshots or for people to get killed on the streets, never lived where there were gangs. I can’t even imagine that being someone’s normal. I’ve always been in a safe, crime-free neighborhood. So Starr’s situation really resonated with me because no child should grow up living in fear just because of the color of his/her skin. It’s a real problem, and one that needs fixed in the world.
Side note: THOSE HARRY POTTER REFERENCES THOUGH.
The book is a bit long for a contemporary, and we all know I’m not a contemp reader. But the audio didn’t feel long because BAHNI TURPIN. It was kinda slow in parts but I want to listen to her storytelling. She brings so much emotion to the story, brings the characters to life. Her voice would break during the emotional parts and it is SO convincing and real that I found myself feeling those things too. Starr’s pain was evident in Bahni’s narrating. If you haven’t listened to anything she narrates yet, I highly recommend!! She also narrated Children of Blood and Bone, which I DNFed in book format and enjoyed listening to.
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5