A challenging read inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, soon to be a movie.
Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses her childhood best friend Khalil get murdered by a policeman, and her life changes. Her angry and grieving neighbourhood is lashing out, making living there more and more precarious, while the response from Starr’s predominantly white school is to use the tragedy as an excuse to skip class. No punishment seems forthcoming for the policeman who committed murder, yet Khalil is slandered every day in the media.
As anger rises and violence grows, Starr has to decide whether to speak out to set the record straight and potentially gain justice for Khalil’s death, or stay quiet and protect herself and her family from retaliation.
While the book deals with heavy themes it isn’t an unrelentingly grim read; Starr has a warm, funny family and while one of her friendships goes sour, the others get stronger as a result. There are well-needed light moments spaced throughout the book and the feeling upon finishing is ultimately hopeful that positive change is on its way, and that we can be a part of that.