After seeing lots of other Bookstagrammer’s enjoying I was thrilled when Sudio approached me. I’m really happy to have discovered what all the fuss is about.
I chose the Sudio Klar headphones in white and have been using them since the beginning of May.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
The sound quality of these headphones is unbelievable. With the noise cancelling turned on, it’s so immersive. Everything is crystal clear and the volume has an excellent range.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
With over-ear headphones I usually find that my head starts to hurt after an hour or so. That is not the case with the Sudio Klar. The headband and the 2 speakers have memory foam padding that moulds to you and then bounces straight back. It took 7 hours of Zoom calls and continuous wearing for any head aching to occur. These have been perfect for long meetings and catching up with family, as well as listening to podcasts and audio books. I cannot wait to be using them on my morning commute again.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Sudio aims for a ‘clean, elegant Swedish design’ which I think they nail! I am HERE for all of the Scandinavian minimalism. I adore that these headphones are simple yet they make a statement. I also love how practical this style is. All of the buttons for operation are on the one ear speaker. They are distinguishable by touch which means I can easily control the volume, answer calls, and mute the microphone at the touch of a button whilst still wearing them. I also find it really useful that, although the Klar are wireless and operate through Bluetooth, there is a wired option. The wire comes with the headphones and you simply plug into the jack on the headphones and then into your device should you be caught between charges to continue listening on the go. An adapter is required for the iPhone lightning connection.
Sustainability is something really important to me. Over the last couple of years I have done a lot to reduce my own impact on the planet in my lifestyle choices and I am now shopping much more consciously.
I was therefore really happy to find that Sudio are an environmentally ethical and responsible company. They have a goal to become a carbon neutral organisation taking measured steps towards that. Here is what their website says about this.
If you want to get your hands on some Sudio headphones take a look at their website:
Talented, artistic, oppressed. Sarah has been learning to survive in a world that has become dangerous for her, her mother, and all other Jewish citizens throughout Europe. So what is a girl to do when she becomes unexpectedly orphaned? That’s right. She becomes a spy in a boarding school for the Nazi elite in 1939.
Sarah is one of my favourite novel protagonists in a long time. She is resourceful, ballsy, BRAVE, and mouthy. I love how she deals with her horrific situation, how she strategises and overcomes.
Matt Killeen expertly weaves Sarah’s backstory and experiences of being Jewish in increasing oppressive Austrian/German societies in the 1930s into the wider plot, which I found very educational. I found myself doing lots of research to fill in the gaps where my own knowledge was sadly lacking in this area of European history (this was further sparked by the Author’s note at the end of the novel). The plot was SO GOOD. Excellently paced and the twists towards the end of the novel were so brilliantly unexpected, I found myself moving the book as far away from me as I could whilst still being able to read.
A thrilling, well researched book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to read book 2 and, hopefully, learn some more about the Captain!
What I’m Currently Reading
Title: The Big Four
Author: Agatha Christie
First Impressions: will be at least a 4 star read
The story so far:
I am loving being back with Poirot, my favourite fictional detective. So far we have had a gentleman climb through Poirot’s apartment window and promptly drop dead. Now Poirot is on the tail of The Big Four, a mysterious criminal organisation. What’s more Hastings, Poirot’s friend, is back to narrate the story for us! I’m enjoying this one so far, but then I always enjoy a Christie.
What I’m Reading Next
Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
This is a re-read before I read the sequel Good Girl, Bad Blood. Click here to read my review and keep your eyes peeled for a review of book 2.
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered bySal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .
This week we have free rein to discuss something bookish we love. Enter my favourite book series that I have been following from the beginning!
I first read The Bone Season weeks after it was released as my Grandma thought it sounded like something I would love, after she had seen Samantha Shannon giving an interview about the book on BBC1. Book 2, The Mime Order, was published when I was at college. Book 3, The Song Rising, was published whilst I was hating every second of uni. This series dragged me kicking and screaming through the trauma of the end of my education and I love it.
Set in a future where the world has ‘fallen’ to clairvoyance and the Republic of Scion is trampling the world into submission, Paige Mahoney must survive in the safety of the Criminal Underworld of London. Paige’s job is to break into the minds of other voyants as the right-hand woman of Jaxon Hall, one of London’s Mime Lords. That is until she is attacked, abducted, and taken to the prison city of Oxford, kept hidden from the world for 200 years. Let the fun (and the emotional torture) begin!
Here are a few reasons why I adore The Bone Season series.
1. Each book (so far) is almost a love letter to a city. The Bone Season = Ode to Oxford. The Mime Order = Ode to London. The Song Rising = Ode to Edinburgh (with a side of Manchester thrown in). The Mask Falling = Ode to Paris.
2. World building. Following on from the fact this series explores different cities and locations, the general world building is so vast. So, so vast. We have orders of clairvoyance along with innumerable types of clairvoyant, we have the entire history of the Scion regime, we have the history of an entire different species, we have transport systems, have recreational activities and entertainment, it goes on and on and it’s insane.
3. Etymology. The genius of the words and the names. Honestly if you want a deep dive into etymology go straight to Samantha Shannon’s Twitter.
4. Jaxon Hall. He’s a sassy, brilliant, sly, pain in the ass. Please read this series he is such a great character.
5. Slightly shallow but, look how pretty 😍 Who wouldn’t want these on their shelves?!
6. It’s going to be a 7 book series! The first 3 have already been published, book 4 is on its way in January 2020 and then there will be 3 more to look forward to!! Samantha Shannon is also known to write chonky ass books so think of how much book fun is still to be had!
7. These books are a musical education. Trust me. Oh, and Samantha Shannon has created some rather helpful Spotify playlists to accompany the books.
8. Girl power! Women run the show in this series. Including the antagonists.
9. Representation and inclusivity. This series contains a multitude of characters from different backgrounds and life situations. This includes POC characters and LGBTQIA+ characters.
10. SLOW. BURN. ROMANCE. Enough said.
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Thank you to NetGalley who kindly provided this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’d like to apologise for this long overdue review. I was sent this e-ARC a while before lockdown began. A busy few weeks at work pre-lockdown and the initial lockdown blues of being unable to concentrate enough to read have prevented me from reading and reviewing this book. I did manage to read this in its publication week and I’m happy to be finally sharing my thoughts.
Our protagonist, Lady Eleanor, witnesses a murder. Except the body vanishes, and the police seem to have no desire to investigate. So Ellie begins sleuthing around the village to solve the murder herself. On the surface this is my perfect book. This concept is so intriguing and I thought this would be a real brain teaser of a novel. Unfortunately not.
The plot began painfully slowly and didn’t really start getting anywhere until around half way through. Honestly I thought the whole first half of the novel could have been cut and it wouldn’t have impacted the story. There was one small side character introduced in the first few chapters that popped up again later in the novel to be useful in ultimately solving the crime, but otherwise there was nothing remotely useful or entertaining in the first half of the novel. Once the plot finally got a move on, everything was very predictable. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for real red herrings and twists to really get the reader going. Unfortunately, I felt the plot was severely lacking in this area.
There was a lot of effort made to drip feed Eleanor’s backstory into the novel. This was the main thing that kept me interested in the book. All I wanted to know was what happened to Ellie’s parents and more about her global travels. *Spoiler alert* we don’t find out what happened to Ellie’s parents. I can only assume this is planting seeds for later books in the series however the mystery element of this mystery novel was not executed well enough for me to read another book in this series.
Ellie is a confusing character. She spends the first 20 chapters doing absolutely nothing except despising other characters in the book for not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. Bright uses Ellie’s every line of thought or dialogue to express that the police in the little village Ellie now lives in is backwards as there are no female officers. She constantly provides social commentary that the men around her are underestimating her before she even opens her mouth based on the fact she’s a woman. She even goes as far as to suspect characters of murder based on how they treated her as a woman and not a shred of motive or anything remotely relevant. The first couple of times it’s brought up, fine, that’s setting the scene. But after that? Honestly, Jesus Christ I get it. The novel is set in 1920s England. We know the social position of women in this time. I felt it was irrelevant to the plot or the character development, especially considering no semblance of a plot was taking place. The second the plot began heading somewhere, the ridiculous commentary stopped clearly showing it served no purpose.
So Ellie was set up as being very pro-women’s rights and very forward thinking for her era, so I thought ‘great’! Surely this means Bright is going to use her protagonist to shut down irritating tropes of women in the 1920s right? HAHAHAHA WRONG. Every time an attractive man enters her field of view she suddenly can’t function and goes weak at the knees. It’s all blushing and feeling faint when an attractive man strays too close. Very cliché.
So which is it? Fainting flapper girl and a hopeless romantic, or trailblazing modern roaring 20s woman (who FYI could have romance without the stereotypical weak, woozy, fainting cr*p).
Clifford, the butler, is a pain in the rear. One of his personality quirks is he is very pedantic. Fine, that’s established early on. But sometimes it feels like this gets in the way of meaningful dialogue and it SERVES NO PURPOSE. Honestly so infuriating.
I did however love the rest of the cast of household staff who each had distinct personalities, really contributed to Ellie’s character development and felt like tangible people.
Unfortunately this book just left me feeling kind of meh. For the most part it felt like I was reading FanFiction of something, and I’d like to point out I’ve read novel-quality FanFic, but this is more an inexperienced author who hasn’t found a voice. The voice is confused, the third person narrative doesn’t work when Eleanor spends so much time inside her own head and voices dialogue to the dog instead of having the novel written in first person…but maybe that’s just me?
I’m really upset that I didn’t enjoy this book as the blurb sounds like everything I adore in a novel. I really expected so much more from this book…
I’d like to thank NetGalley again for sending this e-Arc to me in exchange for an honest review.
Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady… daring detective?
England, 1920. Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady.
Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing…
But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights…
When I saw this topic I thought I was really going to struggle but it turns out that this list filled up very quickly.
1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Didn’t go anywhere near Tolkien until I was towards the end of my teens.
2. The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I came to this book whilst learning French but I would have loved to appreciate this book during childhood.
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I watched the film as a child but never read the book (and still haven’t…)
4. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Same as above…
5. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
And again. Honestly I feel like this theme dominated my childhood…
6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
One of my favourite Disney films and never even knew it was a book until I was in my teens.
7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Same story as with Peter Pan.
8. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton
As I kid I was far too busy with the Rainbow Magic Fairies/Animal Ark/Magic Pony books. Goosebumps was another popular series when I was little and then, on top of all of that, the Harry Potter series was being released throughout my childhood. So with all that exciting children’s book publishing going on, I couldn’t think of anything worse than picking some ‘ancient’ books instead. I really regret that now…
9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Unfortunately this is another story of not knowing these even existed until after the film…
10. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Film again…This was a film I watched time and time again with my grandma. Never knew it was a book first, still haven’t read it…
I blame this on my parents and my family not reading. 😂 Ever. They are big cinema buffs though, as you might be able to tell.
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This book (and the entire series actually) has been on my shelf and my TBR for a long time. I bought all 3 books in the series several years ago and they’ve been sat on my bookshelf ever since. Towards the end of 2019 I finally got around to them, after uni destroyed my love of reading almost irreparably, and I am so glad I am now on this bandwagon.
Whilst I really enjoyed book 1, Siege and Storm actually had me rolling my eyes quite a lot. Here’s what I thought.
Just when you think Mal and Alina might have it a bit easier, at least for a little while, they get caught again. Guess who? Shock horror, yes that’s right, The Darkling is back – and only a handful of pages after they shook him off. That’s a theme of this book to be honest, escaping and then being caught again almost immediately by someone or another. The Darkling initially drags Alina with him whilst looking for the sea whip, AKA yet another Grisha amplifier, which he can use to further control her. Naturally they succeed because tracker extraordinaire Mal is on the case. He and Alina kill the sea whip themselves and then escape…
The new band of escapees drop themselves straight into more trouble in the last place that Mal and Alina want to be in. It is capture disguised as freedom as they can’t really freely leave. Alina essentially doesn’t escape for the whole novel as The Darkling keeps appearing to her and causing problems. It’s exhausting and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose except to irritate the reader. Yes it causes conflict between certain characters but I don’t think it actually adds anything of value to the novel.
There’s lots more questing, when Alina discovers there is actually a third amplifier, which allows for a fair amount of world building. I loved that we were able to learn more about Mal and Alina’s childhood which gave us some adorable fluffy moments (yes I ship it please don’t judge). However the similarities in embarking on a quest where so strong for me that it made this feel like a carbon copy of Shadow and Bone, and makes it difficult to judge this book on its own. For me, the characters really made this novel as there were some excellent additions to the series.
I love lots of the new cast of this book. One is notorious privateer, Sturmhond. What a sassy, wonderful, pain in the ass he is. I adored him, his particular brand of humour, and his cutting remarks. His interactions with the characters we already love are brilliant.
Twins Tolya and Tamar are also standout characters of this book who should be protected at all costs.
Unfortunately, Mal becomes even more whiney in this book. I mean honestly, he needs to get a grip. He starts fighting Grisha and just generally being an angsty, miserable, moaning idiot who puts other people in danger as a result of his actions.
To top it all off The Darkling gains some interesting and horrific new powers that just keep growing and developing into greater horrors…
Lots of the newer cast are from other regions in the world this series is set. As such we are able to learn more about nations such as Shu Han. This is definitely a strength of this book and I loved how this added depths to certain characters’ actions.
I did enjoy this book for the most part however I did find the repetitious plot frustrating. I also feel like the conclusion of the novel was such a horrific low that I can’t see how this is going to be resolved in the final book. It left me very despondent and seemed like a ridiculous conclusion after everything that Mal and Alina had worked for. I can understand the final fight, a common fantasy trope but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from here…
I guess I’ll have to work that out in Ruin and Rising.
Soldier, Summoner, Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long. The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.
from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.
After attending the book launch for Hold Back the Tide in the middle of March (the last weekend I left the house before lockdown), I read this in two sittings right afterwards.
This book is a punchy, thrilling, and quite frankly terrifying little novel. Set in the wilds of Scotland, we follow 16 year old Alva and her murderer father’s lives on the Loch. Just as Alva is ready to carve her own path, everything she thought she knew flips on its head and she must survive unbelievable horrors past and present.
Hold Back the Tide is Melinda Salisbury’s first stand-alone novel and I loved it. Very unsettling from the beginning, this is an eye-opening spin on the consequences of our abuse of natural resources. I would also happily state that the first chapter is easily the best YA novel opening I have ever read. Alva is also a kick ass protagonist and sports my own horrific brand of gallows humour.
In short, I would highly recommend this book.
What I’m Currently Reading
Title: A Very English Murder
Author: Verity Bright
Star rating prediction: 2.5 – 3.5 / 5
I assumed I was going to adore this book from the offset because it’s set in 1920s England with an amateur female detective sleuthing around. However, so far I’ve found the protagonist mostly irritating at best. The plot concept is great (Lady Swift has witnessed a murder but there is no body, the scene is clean, yet everyone is acting shady and then the victim turns up dead elsewhere in an apparent accident), but so far it’s less ‘getting on with the plot’ and more ‘the author has a bee in her bonnet over 1920s sexism’.
Baring in mind the era this novel is set in, I fully understand the situation with regards to men’s attitudes towards women at the time. Even a little bit of set up to paint that picture is absolutely fine. However, every third paragraph the narrative is side-tracked by Ellie’s social commentary of historical sexism.
‘Oh that man is disregarding my opinion because I’m a woman.’ 3 sentences later: ‘Oh I wish we had female police constables in this village like in some of the northern cities, but even those women are babysat by men on the force.’
It’s the 1920s. We got it the first time you mentioned it. We’re in an era 2 years post some women getting the vote. Society is male-dominated and backwards. Fine. Understood. Get on with the plot.
I’m over half way through and so far not a lot has actually happened. Here’s hoping it improves because I really want to like this book…
What I’m Reading Next
Title: Orphan Monster Spy
Author: Matt Kileen
A teenage spy. A Nazi boarding school. The performance of a lifetime.
Sarah has played many roles – but now she faces her most challenging of all. Because there’s only one way for a Jewish orphan to survive at a school for the Nazi elite. And that is to become a monster like them.
Survive. Deceive. Resist.
They think she is just a little girl. But she is the weapon they never saw coming… with a mission to destroy them all.
I love this tag idea, it’s absolutely brilliant! Here are my ideas.
1. Orphan, Monster, Spy (by Matt Kileen)
2. Sparkling Cyanide (by Agatha Christie)
3. Ninth House (by Leigh Bardugo)
4. Sanctuary (by V. V. James)
5. Eve of Man (by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher)
6. The Mime Order (by Samantha Shannon)
7. Two Can Keep A Secret (by Karen M. McManus)
8. Evermore (by Sara Holland)
9. Six of Crows (by Leigh Bardugo)
10. Enchantée (by Gita Trelease)
I love the thought of some of these band names 😂 I think numbers 1 and 2 are definitely my favourite choices on my list. Does anyone think choosing ‘Evermore’ is cheating a little bit considering Paramore exists? I love how it took one single sweep of my bookcases to be fully invested in these bands.
Comment below what you think of my band names and can you see these as realistic options?
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As you may be aware my friend Kerrie, at Wheelie Stagey, and myself are doing some buddy reads through isolation. Our first choice is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. On Monday we posted our first thoughts on chapters 1 – 9. The second instalment came on Wednesday, and this is our final post for this novel.
For each section Kerrie and I have come up with some questions to discuss. You can find the full list by clicking here. Please have a look at my previous posts and go to Kerrie’s blog too for her instalments. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BeauteafulStageyReadAlong to tag us both if you’re joining in!
Chapters 19 – the end of the book is where the action really ramps up. Riots, protests, social movement all accelerate. Starr is waiting to hear the outcome of her interview with the Grand Jury, and the social pressures in her neighbourhood are reaching fever pitch. There’s a lot to reflect on in this last section including our overall ideas of the book. So let’s get into it.
Was it important that the book didn’t have a typical ‘happily ever after?’
Yes. I think this makes the story real and conveys the point the rest of the book had been putting across. The narrative would not have held as much weight if we got the desired outcome of the officer being prosecuted. The reality is, the officer was not prosecuted because this is what usually happens ‘in real life’. It’s important to that I read this as a white reader knowing that the risk of police brutality to myself is basically non-existent. It’s important for me to read these narratives and learn about the struggles outside my own so I can use my voice to be an ally.
Do we think our reactions were affected as we are British readers and there are cultural differences between our own experiences and, for example, the school systems and legal systems we have read about in this book?
I’d like to think my emotional reactions to this book were that of a rational human being. Anyone with a reaction other than shock, horror, or anger to the main issues in this book should take a look at themselves. However, I think there certainly was an added shock factor that comes from the cultural differences between British and American cultures. As a British reader it is still madness to me that people can simply be running around neighbourhoods with guns. The idea that Starr was very aware she could have been shot by a police officer for essentially no reason at all is insanity to me as our regular police aren’t just wondering around with guns. When I first moved to London I was shocked to see police officers carrying guns because that is not a standard feature of police uniform here. The idea that students could simply stage a mass walkout at school is also massively different to the way our secondary schools are run. Riots are not a common feature of UK society. In fact they make national news on the rare occasion that they do happen. However this book has helped me to understand why riots happen and are the way people raise their voices. This has also made me think a lot about how racism punctuates British society too and I really need to work on learning more about the systemic problems present in my own country.
This book gives a very strong message to use our voice. Do we use our own voices enough to contribute to society?
This book has made me think about what I actually do to use my voice. I do voluntary work with Girl Guiding UK so I guess I use my voice to empower and lead young girls. However this left me thinking, is that enough? We should be aware of the power of our voice and not choose to refrain from using it.
As a white woman, my voice automatically carries more weight that some of my peers. Which is wrong. I need to ensure I am using my voice to amplify others who are less heard.
I think there is always a way to do more and it’s good that I am more aware of this now.
After reading The Hate U Give, what part of the book resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?
For me it was definitely the learning curve that this book gave me. It allowed me to check my own privilege, and learn about different American societies and cultural experiences to the ones I ordinarily see on television and in films. The insight I will carry will be most is a renewed sense of self-awareness and that I really need to work on learning more about experiences outside of my own. This book has been a very valuable read for me.
Thank you for reading along with us! We’ve really enjoyed this read-along and will definitely be doing some more soon. Keep an eye out on my blog next week for my full review of The Hate U Give.
As you may be aware my friend Kerrie, at Wheelie Stagey, and myself are doing some buddy reads through isolation. Our first choice is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. On Monday we posted our first thoughts on chapters 1 – 9.
For each section Kerrie and I have come up with some questions to discuss. You can find the full list by clicking here. Please have a look at my previous post and go to Kerrie’s blog too for her instalments. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BeauteafulStageyReadAlong to tag us both if you’re joining in!
Chapters 10 – 18 are where Starr settles into her new normal. With the help of her parents she is processing her grief and dealing with the backlash that is beginning as a result of Khalil’s death. Starr must deal with police and press interviews and the injustice of the police officer murderer remaining free and simply on reduced duties. We learn further details about the night of the murder, and the tension in Starr’s family and community really begin to spiral. Starr also starts to realise who she can trust and who is not a genuine friend, which I think is a really difficult part of growing up. Here are my thoughts.
Starr and Hailey have a very turbulent relationship that changes throughout the novel. What are your thoughts on friendships changing as we grow?
I think this is a really important character arc for Angie Thomas to tackle. I’m not sure that I’ve read any books dealing with this before. The long and short of it is that Starr and Hailey have been friends since middle school (from what I understand of the US school system I’m estimating that’s early secondary school for us Brits – maybe aged 11 or 12). As the girls have grown into themselves, into young women, Starr is realising that Hailey has started to become a person she doesn’t like. Somewhere along the line their moral compasses diverged and it became an incompatible relationship. Starr doesn’t want to put up with Hailey’s selfish and prejudiced behaviours any more. Hailey cannot see that her words are racist. She’s not a nice person and it takes the trauma of Khalil’s murder for Starr to be jolted towards that realisation.
As I said in the last read-along piece, I can relate to Starr in the way that I very much remember what it was like to be a teenage girl, and therefore this subplot hit home for me. I have had personal experience of being frozen out of my friendship group and realising that the people who were supposed to be my friends were anything but. Angie Thomas approach to this with racism as the cause of the broken friendship was heartbreaking. Starr’s strength to accept that her friend was simply a vile person, that there was nothing wrong with herself, and that she could move on to a better situation with healthier friendships, was a huge part of the character arc. It also highlighted to me that this is something I have never had to experience. Being a teenager is hard enough without having to deal with this BS and I don’t think I previously realised that this was something my Black peers are having to face.
We’ve both (Kerrie and I) decided Starr’s parents are excellent characters. Is this something we usually see in the YA books we read? Why do we love them as much as we do?
Honestly Kerrie and I had a little fangirl about Starr’s parents when we Skyped to speak about this book. Lisa, Starr’s mother, is a fierce woman. She’s excellent. Fiercely protective, she knows exactly what to do to help Starr through the aftermath of witnessing Khalil’s murder. She’s got everyone checked in their place, which led to some amusing scenes giving some excellently placed comic relief to the story. Her capacity to love is immense. She can forgive her husband for his mistakes, she loves him unconditionally as she does with their kids. She loves Starr’s older brother Seven as though he’s her own. Honestly she is a FORCE of a woman and she’s absolutely one of my favourite characters in the book. Starr’s father Maverick is also an absolute gem. He always puts his family first whilst having to wrestle with right and wrong, his past life and his current life. He is flawed but the more we learn about him as the story progresses, the more we learn of his heart. He really is just trying to do his best with the circumstances society has constructed around him. I love the scenes where Lisa and Maverick interact. They are funny, totally in love, a little bit messy (which makes them so real), an excellent support system, they’re so much of the heart of this book. I also appreciate that Lisa and Maverick are another cultural example that I need to learn from. They are the adults that characters like Starr will grow into. What the novel teaches us of them is how society shapes these communities and it is a starting place for my understanding.
It’s really refreshing to see a relationship like Lisa and Maverick’s in a young adult novel. I often find the trend in these novels is that there’s usually an absent parent or some sort of ‘broken home’ as the family background. So it’s really nice that Starr comes from a place of relative stability. I’d love to see more of this is ya. Maybe I’m just not reading enough of the correct books?
Family is very important to Starr. How do you think this is handled in the book? What jumped out at you particularly?
Family is portrayed in so many different levels and it really made me consider what makes a family. Starr has a blended family. Her older brother, Seven, is her father’s child and therefore her half sibling. Seven’s siblings are like family extensions through loyalty to their mutual brother. Her uncle is like a second father to her, which causes conflict between some of the adults in her family. Outside of biological family, Starr also has her Garden Heights family, because her community is very much a family. I think Angie Thomas shows more than anything that love and loyalty make families of all different shapes and sizes. I think that was the really important takeaway from this element of the novel.
The way Starr handles what is happening throughout the novel is powerful. What struck you the most?
What struck me most was that this story really deals with exactly what teenagers can do. It shows us that teenagers have strength beyond their years, they can use their brains, they’re principled, and they’re brilliant. It also shows that despite this, and despite the way society may view them, they are just kids. Kids trying to make it through and work life out. One of my favourite scenes of the book is when Starr does the television interview. The answers she gave were just mic drops all over the place. I really appreciate that she was shown with this level of strength in the face of extreme injustice. It’s also clear that she is being strong when that is not easy for her. She doesn’t see her actions as strong, rather what she has to do for Khalil and for her community. She is strong despite being terrified, which is what real strength is. Angie Thomas has created a character who is strong, real, and raw and she is absolutely great. I am also coming to understand that this kind of strength is a necessity, rather than a choice, from Starr and real life Black teens. This is a check on my own privilege in the fact that I would never have to protest to ensure the police murderer of a white friend would be brought to justice, it would simply be an expected result if that kind of thing had happened. What is also becoming clear is that I still have a hell of a lot to learn.
The final instalment of The Hate U Give read-along will go live on Friday, followed by a full book review. Make sure you’re checking back here and over at Wheelie Stagey for full bookish content!