Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.
Busy week here in North Houston Texas. It seems that the order of the day is banning books. At least that seems to be the case with Katy Independent School District, who has taken a special stance with Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give.
School libraries have taken the book off its shelves and much criticism has been directed at Superintendent Lance Hindt, who many have claimed, has removed the book from schools without consulting other necessary parties or conducting business via the normal mandated review process.
Angie Thomas has responded in the form of a powerful social media campaign which refuses to respond to Katy ISD’s official statement. Here’s what she has to say:
Meanwhile, Houstonians all round have had some pretty interesting discussions about this one, with news media reports and a lot of choice words. Check these out:
Not to mention the petition by Nyshira A. Lundy, Katy student, who has garnered the support of almost 2000 residents who want the book put back on the shelf in the schools. You can sign and check out the petition HERE.
In true classical style, how does one make a book immediately popular? That’s right folks, ban it.
Instead of becoming blacklisted, banning a book is a sure fire way of making it the most readable thing on the market. Not that The Hate U Give actually needs a market. It was a National Book Award Longlist title, a Boston Globe Horn Book Award winner, and on the New York Times Bestseller list for like, a billion years, and Fox 2000 have already bid for a film adaptation. It’s not like Thomas is going out of business with this one. Nevertheless, I was immensely proud of my library system here in Houston who not only have multiple copies of the book, and the e-book, and the e-audio book, and the audio book, but have also placed orders for more copies and have assured us that The Hate U Give WILL remain on our selected list for the upcoming Tournament of Books at our libraries (you can check out our Tournament of Books at the Harris County Public Libraries here). Here’s my library’s poster:
Why this overabundance of copies of this book?
Because of this fantastic statement featured on the website of the American Library Association, which we Librarians live by:
That’s right folks, if you ban it, we will read it. Then we’ll recommend it, use it in a book club, make a display, order the poster, beg for publisher ARCs, order more copies, blog about it, include it in a Tournament or a program, recommend it to other educators and librarians, and then we’ll make a complete list of read-a-likes for it.
You. Are. Welcome.
So without further ado, and in an effort to get this to all of you rebellious banned book readers out there, I am going to use this post to give you a list of titles to read.
If you have read The Hate U Give and want to read more, we will not stop you. In fact, we may glitter bomb you in joy.
Let’s start with the book itself. I will not review it here for two reasons:
- It’s been sitting on my bookshelf with many other books that I need to get read, for months. I’ve just picked it up to read…because it was banned…and I can. So, while I’d happily review this book, I feel that my review wouldn’t do it justice at this point. Instead, others have reviewed this material on the precipice of its release and anticipation of its success, and instead, you should read the words of those diligent enough to get to it months ago.
- Because it’s been reviewed by a slue of wonderful reviewers who have already said all the things necessary, there is no need to add my personal opinion; everyone has one of those and so you can get one anywhere, you don’t need mine.
Instead, I’ll refer you to a few places. Firstly, HERE where you can get a copy of this book. It’s also on the shelf at your library, but they’ll be a huge wait list for it now, so just do yourself a favour and buy it. You won’t regret it and you can pass it on to another reader who will probably be on the wait list for it.
Secondly, I’ll send you HERE to HipMamaJenn’s post about the book when it was first mentioned, then HERE to a review by Anna Diamon posted in March this year, and then HERE to this review by Ryan Douglass also back in March. After that, I’ll send you HERE to GoodReads, where a bunch of people have read and reviewed the book. Got it? Good.
The book is fabulous, disturbing, heart wrenching, funny, emotional, educational and brilliantly truthful…brutal…but brilliantly truthful.
Here, in this post, I will instead offer the below list of titles. Because if you are out there and you’ve read The Hate U Give and you’d like to read more, then we, your Librarians can give you more. Or if you are on the wait list for this book and you need something to do in the meantime, you could always read…another book…like one of these.
There are two clauses to the list below:
- I have not read all of these books cover to cover. I get busy from time to time and I just can’t do it. This is therefore a list of recommended read-a-likes that have come to me through the grapevine and have emerged from the community brain that comprises of my fellow Librarians.
- I know that there are other titles out there that I’ll miss here. This isn’t an all encompassing list, if you have a title that I miss, post it in a comment. I’m always happy to add to my TBR (to be read) list.
So here it is. The ‘if you liked that, read this’ list for The Hate U Give. May you read these and feel like you are ‘sticking it to the man.’
For starters, let’s mention a few books aimed at a middle-schooler age group. The subject matter of these read-a-likes are bound to be heavy, but are important, and there are a few authors who have done a great job in writing with a niche in this particular genre and age group.
The first book is a classic oldie but a goodie and it is:
In this coming of age novel, the legendary Maniac Magee is the protagonist of amazing tales which navigate a fine line between the east and west sides of a racially divided small town. Maniac is somewhat oblivious to the notion that race does actually cause the division, but in this respect, the book highlights a childlike innocence and a belief that the content of one’s character is most significant. This is written by Jerry Spinelli and as I said, is an oldie but a goodie.
The next one is not so old. In fact I just got done with the ARC. It’s:
The beauty of this book is David Barclay Moore’s ability to capture grief and loss and the tenacious way in which our young protagonist Lolly tries to navigate his difficult coming of age in a gang ridden neighborhood, when all watching eyes expect him to go the wrong way. Once again Moore is an excellent writer who really effectively deals with difficult but relevant topics for a young audience.
Keep a weather out for these two as well. They are a part of the Track series written by Jason Reynolds and there’s more of these fine works on the way:
The series chronicles the lives and struggles by young people living in and navigating through poverty stricken neighborhoods. Once again these are coming of age stories which unfold amidst adverse circumstances and deep, emotionally disturbing family and personal histories for their characters. The stars’ triumphs on the track team leads them to win in more ways than crossing the finish line. Look out for the latest one in this series Sunny (due in April 2018):
Okay, lets move to an older age group. Here are some more for a little older than middle schooler, going to the Young Adult / Adult category.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Okay, so this one I read in one sitting. Then I said “wow” and I read it again. Then I gave it to HipMamaJenn and told her to read it at all cost. This one gave me chills. The story is reviewed here. Just do me a favor and get it and have this ready to go. Just…wow. Jason Reynolds is really at a prime writing time right now.
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Once again I reviewed it here. Very powerful work which very cleverly discusses sexual and racial prejudice with an empathetic voice. A fantastic read.
Passage by Khary Lazarre-White
This is the story of Warrior, a young black man living in Harlem and Brooklyn in the early 90s. The story unfolds as Warrior must balance a precariously dangerous life on gang ridden and racially divided streets, while battling the inner demons and spirits of his own ancestral past and the oppression of an apathetic society. I did read this and found that it was not for me, that said, I am in fact a white female who has never lived in Harlem or Brooklyn and would not know the first thing about the experiences that Warrior faces in this novel. This is the type of book that would strike a deep cord with many who have lived these experiences and Lazarre-White has written a deeply insightful novel here.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
In this book Mary is accused of the murder of a baby. But her guilt is questionable and appears to have been determined by a society and a justice system that sees a white baby having died while in the care of a black woman. This one is an adult or older teen read and really highlights the injustice of a system designed to fail our society’s youth.
All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds is at it again, this time with Brendan Kiely and the pair write this extraordinarily gripping tale about Rashad and Quinn, whose otherwise uncrossed lives entwine when Rashad is suspected of a crime and subjected to police brutality, and Quinn becomes a witness. The crux is that the officer who imposes ‘justice’ on Rashad is Quinn’s best friend’s brother. Rashad and Quinn must now navigate the difficult path to truth and justice, both standing up and finding their respective voices amidst a treacherous racial divide.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Join Justyce as he tries to make sense of the world around him by writing an impassioned journal to Dr. Martin Luther King. Justyce wants to understand Dr. King’s teachings and how they apply to the world around him, but he’s struggling. And when racial tensions increase after an incident with an off-duty police officer, Justyce finds himself on trial by media, more adrift than ever.
The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Follow Margot as she comes of age in the South Bronx, trying to answer difficult questions about life, love, family and where she fits into the world. I have not read this one but hear great things.
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
This is another one that I have not read yet, so if you have, feel free to make a comment / review. This book is similar to the Hate U Give in that it a features a young, black woman (Jade) who attends a private school matriculated by predominantly white, wealthy students. Jade must live a double life, with one foot in her poverty stricken neighborhood and another in the ‘land of opportunity’ that is her school. But Jade struggles with ‘being saved’ by well meaning people and vows to find her own way.
After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
This book is another coming of age which focuses on friendship, the discovery that the world is bigger than expected, and dealing with loss and sudden change. It also draws upon the affect that Tupac’s death had on the world.
Black and White by Paul Vulpine
Two friends, who have otherwise fought a racial division, fight to save their friendship after a terrible decision. Haven’t read this but it gets great write ups.
Begging For Change by Sharon Flake
This is a sequel to an earlier work Money Hungry. The books feature Raspberry who must overcome the trials of difficult family relationships, influences of family drug use, and poverty, to keep her vow not to be homeless again.
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Tariq Johnson, a young black man, is killed by Jack Franklin a white man. In the aftermath, no two accounts of the event are the same, and Tariq’s family are left to mourn his loss while finding out what really happened.
Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Emond Stephen
This story follows Walter and Naomi as they navigate the difficulties of have a mixed-racial relationship in an unsympathetic world. And the fact that Walter’s father is a police officer embroiled in a racial profiling scandal doesn’t help matters at all.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This story follows Junior as he leaves behind his life at the reservation to attend school in an all white farm town. Great reviews for this one, it’s on my shelf, ready to read.
Finally, one last series to mention here for our young readers.
Tyrell and Bronxwood by Coe Booth
Follow the complicated life of Tyrell in this series. He’s got serious family issues, lives in poverty, and must navigate the path of coming of age as a young black man. His got self-esteem problems, a flaky mother and daddy is in prison. This one is sure to hit a cord with many, many readers.
Okay, so I’m exhausted. This is a long blog and it’s heavy material mentioned here. But the point of this was to show that although The Hate U Give certainly drew some attention this week, it is one of many books that is dealing with extremely relevant issues right now and is aimed at readers that really identify with what is being written and who need to see it written. And books like The Hate U Give and others mentioned here, serve to help folks like me. I was not born in this country and do not have the contextual knowledge to fully understand many of the issues that come up in this literature. Being able to read books dealing with these difficult topics helps me to better understand what is happening for many people in American society today. Our young people need to see this and to be able to read these texts, and as Librarians, we will be the ones to fight for their right to do so.
So now, I will finish this post by opening it up to you.
Do you have a book to add to this list? Do you know of an author that has ‘nailed it’ as far as this subject / genre/ age group is concerned. Can you add to the read-a-likes? If so, comment below. Because people want to see this and need to know what to look for. Hopefully, this post just gave them a little light reading while they are waiting for their Angie Thomas.
Happy reading readers!