3 Canadian books to read after watching The Hate U Give

Based on Angie Thomas's bestselling YA novel, The Hate U Give film has scored rave reviews.
The Hate U Give is a bestselling novel by Angie Thomas (Anissa Photography)

When American writer Angie Thomas published her debut book, The Hate U Give, a YA novel exploring the Black Lives Matter movement through the eyes of a teenage girl, it spent 80 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Now, just over a year later, the film adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg is premiering to rave reviews.

The novel tells the story of a 16-year-old named Starr Carter who sees her childhood friend Khalil fatally shot by a white police officer. As the sole witness, Starr is thrown into a maelstrom of media headlines declaring Khalil a thug, protesters calling for justice and police officers trying to intimidate her into keeping quiet. With pressure mounting, Starr must decide whether or not she'll come forward with her story.

If this book inspired you, take a look at these Canadian novels that explore similar themes.

Brother by David Chariandy

Brother is David Chariandy's second novel. (Joy van Tiedemann/Penguin Random House Canada)

About the book: David Chariandy's award-winning novel follows the lives of Michael and Francis, sons of Trinidadian immigrants, growing up in an impoverished area of Scarborough, Ont. A fatal shooting ends one brother's life and changes the other irrevocably.

Opening lines: Once he showed me his place in the sky. That hydro pole in a parking lot all weed-broke and abandoned. Looking up, you'd see the dangers of the climb. The feeder lines on insulators, the wired bucket called a pole-pig, the footholds rusted bad and going way into a sky cut hard by live cables. You'd hear the electricity as you moved higher, he warned me. Feel it shivering your teeth and lighting a whole city of fear inside your head. But if you made it to the top, he said, you were good. All that free air and seeing. The streets below suddenly patterns you could read.

Read it if: Brother offers a Canadian perspective on racism and fatal police encounters. Not to mention, Chariandy is one of Canada's most gifted writers — his prose will send you to undiscovered emotional depths. 

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

S.K. Ali is the author of the YA novel Saints and Misfits. (Andrea Stenson/Simon & Schuster)

About the book: Jana Yusuf is a feisty sophomore in high school who divides the people in her life into three categories: saints, misfits and monsters. Jana casts herself as a misfit, wedged somewhat uncomfortably between her faith and her crush on a non-Muslim boy. When a respected member of the Muslim community attempts to assault and publicly shame her, Jana finds a way to fight back.

Opening lines: I'm in the water. Only my eyes are visible, and I blow bubbles to ensure the rest of me stays submerged until the opportune time. Besides the lifeguard watching from his perch, there's a gaggle of girls my age patrolling the beach with younger siblings in tow. They pace in their flip-flops and bikinis, and I wait.

Read this if: Pick this up if you love stories of strong, multi-faceted heroines taking risks to stand up for what's right in the face of a difficult experience.

Shooter by Caroline Pignat

Caroline Pignat is the author of the young adult novel Shooter. (PRH Canada Young Readers/Angela Flemming)

About the book: Five Grade 12 students hide in a boys' washroom when a shooter enters their school. The group mostly know each other by reputation — and none of them are thrilled to be stuck together. But as the book unfolds through poetry, prose, text messages and homework assignments, surprising truths emerge about each of them.

Opening lines: "Hey... you okay?" The deep voice echoes as I come to, flat on my back on the cold tile. A huge rabbit leans over me. Yes, rabbit. Whiskers. Buck teeth and ears. Tartan vest — the works. My head aches. I don't have to touch the lump pulsing on my brow to know it's there.

Read this if: What's it like to be a young person facing such a traumatic event? Like The Hate U Give, Shooter explores the human side of violent events seen frequently in the news, ones which inspire highly charged political conversations. 


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