Born c. 1989, in Jackson, MS. Education: Belhaven University, B.F.A., 2011. Addresses: Home: Jackson, MS.
Walter Dean Myers Grant, We Need Diverse Books, 2015; Prize in the Young Adult Fiction and Debut Good Reads Author Categories, Goodreads Choice Awards, 2017, William C. Morris Award, Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and the Children's Book of the Year Prize, British Book Awards, all 2018, all for The Hate U Give.
- The Hate U Give, Balzer + Bray (New York, NY), 2017.
- On the Come Up, Balzer + Bray (New York, NY), 2019.
Angie Thomas's debut novel for young adults, The Hate U Give, was an immediate sensation, rising to number one on the New York Times best-seller list within a week of publication in 2017. The book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, but Thomas traces the deeper roots of her literary aspirations to early childhood. Speaking with Clarion-Ledger Online contributor Bracey Harris, the author explained that, at age six, she had been playing in a park across the street from her house in Jackson, Mississippi, when two young men began shooting at each other. Though bullets ricocheted all around, the terrified girl was able to escape without injury. "I really got into books after that," Thomas told Harris. "My mom wanted me to see there was more to the world than this."
Indeed, books became Thomas's passion. By third grade, the aspiring author was writing her own stories and reading them to her classmates during their weekly Friday story period. She went on to study writing at Belhaven University, and in 2015 she became the first recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Grant from the We Need Diverse Books organization.
The Hate U Give began as a short story during the author's senior year in college. As Thomas explained to MTV Online interviewer Marisa Kanter, she lived in a mostly black, poor neighborhood but her college classmates were mostly white. When Oscar Grant, an unarmed African American man, was fatally shot by police in Oakland, California, Thomas heard very different responses to the event. Her black neighbors considered Grant one of their own; her white classmates sympathized more with the police. Angry and frustrated, Thomas wanted to write a story that would, as she said to Kanter, be "unapologetically black" but that would also show the diversity within and between different communities.
Starr Carter, the sixteen-year-old protagonist of The Hate U Give, lives in the black neighborhood of Garden Heights but attends Williamson Prep, a mostly white suburban high school. Starr is the only witness when her best friend from childhood, Khali, is shot and killed by a white police officer. His death sparks intense controversy. The media portray him as a gangster and probable drug dealer, and the police department defends the officer who shot him. Most of Starr's high-school classmates, including one of her closest friends, side with the cops and say that Khali had it coming. Anguished by her friend's death and by the heartless response from her white friends, Starr struggles with her conscience about whether to tell what she saw.
The novel earned stellar reviews. "Starr's voice commands attention from page one," said a contributor to Publishers Weekly, who went on to praise the book both for its topicality and for its "authentic" depiction of a sensitive teenage girl coming to realize that the truth of her lived experience is not recognized or valued by the larger society. A writer for Kirkus Reviews praised the author for "laying bare the systemic racism" of Starr's world, concluding: "This story is necessary. This story is important."
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
- BookPage, March, 2017, Diane Colson, review of The Hate U Give, p. 28.
- Bookseller, February 24, 2017, interview with Thomas.
- Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2016, review of The Hate U Give.
- Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2016, review of The Hate U Give, p. 70.
- School Library Journal, January, 2017, Mahnaz Dar, review of The Hate U Give, p. 106.
- Angie Thomas Home Page, http:// angiethomas.com (March 21, 2017).
- Book Smugglers, http:// thebooksmugglers.com/ (March 21, 2017), review of The Hate U Give.
- Clarion-Ledger Online, http:// www.clarionledger.com/ (March 21, 2017), Bracey Harris, "Belhaven Grad Inks Massive Book Deal."
- Entertainment Weekly, http:// ew.com/ (March 21, 2017), Leah Greenblatt, review of The Hate U Give.
- Jackson Free Press Online, http:// jacksonfreepress.com/ (March 17, 2017), Alexis Ware, "Angie Thomas."
- MTV Online, http://www.mtv.com/ (March 21, 2017), Marisa Kanter, "Q&A: Angie Thomas on The Hate U Give, Black Lives Matter, and Writing an 'Unapologetic Black Girl Book.'"
- National Public Radio Website, http://www.npr.org/ (March 21, 2017), Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Weekend Edition interview with Thomas.
- New York Magazine Online: The Cut, http://nymag.com/thecut/ (March 21, 2017), Dayna Evans, "This Teen Book about Black Lives Matter Is the No. 1 YA Book in the Country Right Now."
- Salon, http://www.salon.com/ (March 21, 2017), Erin Keane, review of The Hate U Give.*