The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Starr lives in an underprivileged neighbourhood but goes to a prep school in a posh suburban area. In her neighbourhood there are drug gangs and shootings on a regular basis and these things are alien to her friends at school. Starr feels like she has to keep the two aspects of her life completely separate from one another. She struggles with her identity and finds herself acting a certain way depending on who she is around and throughout the book this becomes more difficult for her to do.
The story focuses around the fact that Starr witnessed her best friend being shot and killed by a police officer and how her neighbourhood’s and her own fight for justice evolve from this event. There’s a lot of pressure on Starr as the only witness and the only one who can speak the truth but she is against a whole corrupt and racist system which put her in danger and took her best friend’s life in the first place.
The characters and dynamics in this book were all relatable and made the whole story overall feel more authentic. Starr has been taught by her parents to speak and act a certain way in the presence of police and she also recognises why this was necessary. Her awareness of it becomes more prominent as the story progresses and the development of her thinking feels believable.
As a YA book this was an easy going and simple read but the issues and concepts deal within this story were so important so I think this is a must read for anyone. This story is about the #BlackLivesMatter movement and is a powerful personal story to humanise this issue.
The Boy From Aleppo Who Painted the War – Sumia Sukkar
This story is told from the perspective of Adam, a 14 year old boy living in Syria as the war breaks out. Adam has Asperger Syndrome and so his understanding of what is happening, or lack thereof, becomes the readers understanding. Not only is this novel about the war in Syria and how it completely destroyed countless lives, it is also witnessed from the perspective of an innocent child who struggles even more to understand what is happening around him because of his Asperger’s Syndrome.
Adam has four older siblings and we learn early on in the story that his mother passed away recently so it falls to his older sister, Yasmine, to look after him. Throughout this book each member of Adam’s family goes through a traumatic ordeal, each unimaginable and different from one another and they all witness heartbreaking events.
As a reader, this is even more difficult to take in knowing that although this is a fictional story, the war in Syria is real and is still going on. The only thing which helps Adam deal with his Asperger’s and the difficult things he sees is to paint them, so he does and even when he can’t physically paint, he does it in his mind.
This is such an important book, not only for its direct and personal insight into the war in Syria but also for its insight and portrayal of Asperger Syndrome.