November 20, 2019
Dear Angie Thomas,
Stay quiet. Avoid conflict. Make no facial expressions. Before I had read your book, The Hate U Give, those were just a few of the many things I would tell myself when faced with a problem I didn’t agree with. But little did I know, that would only make matters worse.
I used to think that not speaking my mind was always better for everyone, for I was afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. Afraid to make someone sad or mad. Afraid to fall when I haven’t reached the top yet. I was afraid of so many things that I thought people would judge me for. Your book showed me that I’m probably not the only one who has a lot to say, but is anxious to say anything about it. Everyone wants to be heard, but no one wants to be judged or criticized for their thoughts and opinions. In my opinion, it makes me feel like people don’t think that I can make rational decisions for myself and what I believe is right.
Throughout your book, Starr reminded all of us just how crucial it is to use our voice and speak up against injustice and to fight for our rights as human beings. Although things can become difficult, fighting for a better life is never a lost cause. In the beginning, when Starr’s father gives her and her brother the “talk” about what to do when they’re pulled over by a police officer, at such a young age, emphasizes the struggle of not being able to speak up for their rights, and just how important it was for them to, later, stand up and speak out for equal rights.
While reading your book, I found myself connecting to Starr’s life on many occasions. For example, like me, Starr is of mixed race going to a not very ethnically diverse school. Striving to fit it was always difficult for me. I never really felt like I belonged with everyone else at my school and I always thought I looked like a sore thumb in a crowd. As time went on, I was constantly striving to fit in and be like everyone else, but I later learned to accept my differences and be proud of who I have become. I never gave up and always strived to be the best version of myself I could possibly be.
What Starr has done and what she has been through has inspired me to always stand up for what I believe in and to not change my opinions in order to please other people. I shouldn’t have to lock up and hide my feelings or thoughts in return for the safety of someone else’s feelings. Because of Starr, I am confident in my decisions and my ability to stand up for what I believe in. Of course, I am still considerate of what I’m saying, but I don’t feel the need to critique my thoughts and opinions for others. I am able to express my best self without worrying about the judgement of my peers.
In addition, one of my favorite quotes from the book is, “That's the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?” (252). This quote taught me the importance of not letting people walk all over me and to speak up when I think something isn’t right. Your voice is like the sun; very powerful and helps guide people through dark times but when hidden, no one can see a path to follow.
Not only did your book, The Hate U Give, help me become more confident, it also helped me learn a valuable life lesson to never give up, never keep quiet, and never settle for the lowest.