Release date: February 28th 2017
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
This book caught my eye because of all the attention its been getting and I have to say, it deserves all the praise and hype it had gotten. It’s a book that won’t be easily forgotten after finishing it, one that makes its reader think before, during, and long after reading it. I loved our heroine’s struggle, the dynamics between characters, and how it handled such a relevant topic.
Starr was an amazing character. She attended a private school in another neighbourhood so she felt like two different people. Sometimes she was Williamson Posh Starr and sometimes she was the real Starr. As one of the only black kids at her school attended by mostly rich white kids, she didn’t want to give them a reason to label her the ‘angry black kid’ as she said many times. She never saw herself as a hero as she struggled with how everything would change if she talked but how could she not when her friend was murdered. She was a character with a strong voice that was easy to feel empathy for.
I absolutely loved the supporting cast and how they were utilized in Starr’s story while still having their own voices. Starr’s mother who wanted to keep her family safe even if that meant moving out of their neighbourhood versus her father who felt like they had to stay to make a difference. Starr’s brother Seven who was extremely smart and college bound but wanting to stay local to take care of his family. Her friends and boyfriend who never knew the whole of Starr before. Whether they were supportive, trying to understand something they might never truly understand, or refusing to acknowledge a problem glaring them in the face, they all added something to the story.
The book was well over 400 pages but it never felt like it. It didn’t shy away from anything and it brought the emotions out full force. I ended up in tears more than once. It was definitely not an easy read and I didn’t expect it to be. I was happy it didn’t flinch away from the violence and that it was a read that wasn’t easy, that was ingraining itself even as the pages were turned. This is a book that should start conversations and was a very, very powerful read.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.