#REVIEW: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

32075671One of our local radio stations does a bit called Group Therapy in the morning, which is usually airing just as I’m driving the boy to school.  The general pattern is this: they pose a problem, submitted by a listener, that should generally be easily dealt with by anyone with an average middle schooler’s level of sophistication and emotional intelligence.  They do not provide enough information about the problem to allow listeners to give useful advice, and people who like hearing their voices or names on the radio submit useless advice on Facebook or on the air so that the person involved can do whatever they were going to do anyway.

I’m going to start listening to Pandora more in the morning, is what I’m saying.

This morning’s problem was as follows: a parent’s 11-year-old has stolen their credit card, for the second time.  It wasn’t made perfectly clear, but it seems that as of the time of the advice-asking, the boy still had the card.  He had used it to buy $50 worth of drinks and snacks from a local convenience store and not to, say, order hundreds of dollars worth of electronics from somewhere, which is what you’d think most kids would do with a credit card they’d stolen.  Anyway, this parent had reported the card stolen, and apparently under the (incorrect) idea that the police would show up if the kid attempted to use the card again– which, yeah, right— was wondering if he/she should just talk to his/her kid or let the police “scare him straight.”

And all I could think of, listening to this, was that the person asking for advice and every single one of the dumb motherfuckers providing (generally approving) advice for the latter piece of advice had to be white.  Because every black parent in America knows that you do not let the police anywhere near your child unless someone is guaranteed to die if you don’t.  There are no optional encounters with the police.  Fuck, I’m white and I live in a nice neighborhood and I’m never calling the police again unless somebody is under serious immediate physical threat.  And you’re gonna call the police on your baby because of a $50 credit card bill?  Your privilege is not only showing, it’s leaking out of the dashboard of my car, and I ought to be able to charge somebody to clean that shit up.

(Leave aside the ridiculous notions that 1) the police care about a $50 fraudulent credit card charge because they have nothing else to do and 2) they have time to help you with relatively routine parenting decisions.)

Which brings me to Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, or THUG for short.  The title of the book is a Tupac reference; Pac was fond of the backronym, explaining, for example, that “nigga” stood for “Never Ignorant, Getting Goals Accomplished.”  “Thug Life,” to Tupac, meant “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody,” and the meaning of that phrase is discussed throughout the book.

The story is told through the eyes of Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old black girl.  Starr is the sole witness when a policeman murders one of her oldest friends during a traffic stop.  Her friend, Khalil, was unarmed and unresisting when he was shot.  The rest of the book spins out from that one moment; the different sections are even dated by it: “Three Weeks After It Happens,” and such.

You can probably predict the overall story beats from the premise, right?  America knows this story pretty Goddamn well by now, and the tension here is less from what happens (anybody want to put money down on whether the cop is exonerated by the grand jury or not?) than how the people in the book react to it.  Starr herself is a fascinating character; she lives in a rough neighborhood but her parents scrape and save to send her to a private school 45 minutes away, so many of her best friends aren’t black and she thinks of herself as being two different people, one at school and one at home.    Her uncle is a police officer, her father a former gang member.  Khalil himself has a complicated backstory, and the book dives into the inevitable attempt by the media and the police to slander him and make him responsible for his own murder.  For a large portion of the story Starr’s school friends and her (white) boyfriend aren’t aware that she’s the anonymous witness the news keeps referring to, and the way she reacts to their treatment of Khalil’s death is complex and fascinating.  Her navigation through the web of relationships and identities she’s struggling with throughout the book is a pleasure to read.

I recommend books here all the time; I rarely bother to review anything I didn’t love unless I think I can hate it in an entertaining way, but it’s not terribly often that I use the word important to describe a book that I’ve read.  You need to read THUG, and you need to get THUG into the hands of as many other people as you can, particularly young people.  Angie Thomas’ writing is crisp and clear, Starr herself is a wonderful character, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more work by this author.  Go read this book.  Do it right now.

In which I am SuperDad

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Tonight I bought the boy a Pokémon sourcebook and a bunch of cards in a tin on the way home from work, then once I got home I put together my new Raspberry Pi and downloaded a bunch of Nintendo games onto it.  And the original Atari 2600 version of PITFALL!, which was mostly for my mother.

I thought it was going to be a pain in the ass, honestly, but the whole thing worked like a charm.  There’s a weird audio issue where it won’t keep a consistent sound level, but I suspect I can suss out what’s causing that given some time and adding new games to the system has turned out to be damned easy.

He went from deliriously happy to be playing Mario to nearly throwing his first controller within five minutes, so I figure I’m doing something right.

What games from the Super Nintendo and original PlayStation era should I be downloading?  I missed those the first time around; my parents wouldn’t buy me either of them.  🙂

In which I embark on new projects

I had chips and salsa for dinner tonight, because 1) I’m grown and 2) shut up you’re not my momma.  Unless you are my momma, which I suppose one of you probably will be, in which case, hell, I already ate it, why you bringin’ up old stuff?

Anyway.

I have this little doohickey coming to me in the mail later this week:

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Along with this:

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And a couple of these:

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And I’m planning on taking Wednesday or Thursday and building myself a NES emulator.  Nintendo’s Classic system was simultaneously impossible to find and not what I wanted; I wanted something expandable and particularly something that was actually playable, which is not the case for any device with a 2.5 foot long controller cord.  And now it’s cancelled, so I’ll never get one of those things that isn’t quite what I want.  So fuck it, I’mma build my own.  I want games I can play with my kid and Monster Legends isn’t quite enough.  So I’ll spend a few hours beating my head against a wall, which is my standard procedure whenever embarking on a new technology adventure, and then I’ll be able to play Mario with my kid and my wife will be able to finish The Legend of Zelda, which somehow she has never done.

I’m looking forward to it.  And you get to look forward to the inevitable profane blog post when I fuck it all up.  Whee!

A possibly unnecessary explanation

Take a look at this document from the shitgibbon, released before he was elected became President:C9ts5EWXoAEhGP_.jpg-large.jpegYou will no doubt note all the red Xes, used to designate items that Twitler has not managed to accomplish within his first 100 days.  You will also no doubt notice that every single item has a red X over it.

Ran into a numbskull on Twitter yesterday who was chastising the person who originally posted the document.  “You’re against his entire agenda!” this person said.  “Shouldn’t he not passing any of it be a good thing?”

Here’s the thing.

Yes, I’m glad that the shitgibbon hasn’t been able to get much, if any, of his agenda enacted.  Yes, I think that’s a good thing.  His agenda is mostly completely evil and I don’t want things that are completely evil to happen.

However!

Every so often things happen in America that are supposed to, at least in theory, be beyond partisanship.  And, believe it or not, I am generally in favor of competent governance— even when it is run by a Republican.  The shitheel in the White House has proven himself throughout his entire life to be absolutely incompetent at every single thing he does.  And if and when, God forbid, something happens in this country that demands some sort of nationally unified response, I don’t want morons at the wheel at that time.  For all the shit I talked about Mitt Romney while he was running for office, he met the not-especially-high standard of being basically competent and not insane.  Hell, I hated George W. Bush with a passion that bordered on deeply unhealthy at times and even that stupid motherfucker could be trusted to occasionally go out in public without stepping on his goddamn dick.

This guy?  He’s a 70-year-old narcissist with dementia and a host of raging personality disorders.  There is no one in the White House who has ever so much as passed a bill in Congress.

So yeah, I’m perfectly capable of hating his entire agenda and finding fault with his complete inability to pass even the tiniest part of it.  Because they mean he’s fucked up in completely different ways, and none of them are any good.

(Also, and somewhat unrelated, I’m frustrated with Republican America’s utter inability to see through this fucker during the campaign.  There was never any chance at all that he was going to be a good President.  He’s never been good at anything in his life.  Never once.  That was not going to change once he got the hardest job on the planet.)