Style of writing
The language in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas often reflects Starr’s background as an African-American girl who comes from a disadvantaged neighborhood. In her narration, Starr frequently uses slang and language that is typical of a teenage girl. The way she speaks also reflects her black identity and her immersion in black culture:
Khalil grabs a napkin from the coffee table and wipes drink off his Jordans – the Three Retros. They came out a few years ago, but I swear those things are so fresh. […] Thanks to my small feet, Chris and I can match our sneakers. Yes, we’re that couple. Shit, we’re fly though. (Chapter 1, 64%)
At school, however, Starr feels she has to speak differently in order to hide her background: “Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang – if a rapper would say it, she doesn’t say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her ‘hood’.” (Chapter 5, 10%)
Members of Starr’s family and neighborhood often use non-standard grammar, reflecting their sociolect. For example: “ ‘Then I became a daddy, and I realized that King Lord shit wasn’t worth dying for. I wanted out. But you know how the game work, it ain’t as easy as saying you done.’ ” (Chapter 10, 62%)
The novel also explores racialized language. Some words are considered racial slurs when white people say them, but not when black people say them:
A car stereo loudly plays a record-scratching sound, then Ice Cube says, ‘Fuck the police, coming straight from the underground. A young n...