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.
Along with All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, this book truly captures what is going on in today’s society. Starr Carter lives in a poor neighborhood with her family. Her father, once part of a gang, has reformed himself enough that Starr is able to attend a fancy prep school in the suburbs. While her mother worries about the family’s safety, her father is reluctant to move so he won’t be considered a sell-out to the neighborhood.
Starr lives two lives: her home life and her school life. She acts and speaks differently at school because she doesn’t want to be thought of as ghetto or a thug. Life isn’t always easy for her and it gets harder when her friend Khalil is killed by a police officer right in front of her eyes. Understandably traumatized, Starr doesn’t want to be known as the witness to the shooting. She fears the backlash it would cause. Her voice during this time is so authentic and so heart-wrenching that I wanted to hug her and help her get through this.
I haven’t read a book like this, where a character is so split between her two selves and how she eventually makes peace with herself. I could not put it down. It was powerful, heart breaking, made me learn, think, and cry. Even though the book is very much a part of what is going on in the world right now, it is one that will definitely stand the test of time.