If You Liked x, Read y: Police Violence Edition

January 12, 2018

Angie Thomas' groundbreaking novel The Hate U Give made all kinds of best-of lists last year, and with good reason: her nuanced portrayal of a black teen caught between two worlds when her friend is gunned down by a police officer struck a chord, especially with a North America that's seemed a little more 1958 than 2018 as of late. We've got what fans of Thomas' novel should read next.

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It's fair to say that we've reached a critical moment in racial tensions in North America, between the Colin Kaepernick-led NFL protests, racist fashion advertisements, and, especially, every heartbreaking example of the treatment of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour at the hands of police.

It's the milieu in which Angie Thomas wrote her bestselling novel The Hate U Give (technically YA but has been and should be read by everyone). In the story, 16-year-old Starr Carter witnesses her friend Khalil's fatal shooting by a police officer. Torn between the worlds of her rich, mostly-white private school and her crime-ridden neighbourhood, Starr tries to navigate these murky waters, all the while reeling from the injustice of what she's seen.

Like Thomas, playwright Marie Beath Badian was inspired by real-life police violence against people of colour when she wrote her play,  The Making of St. Jerome (Playwrights Canada Press). In 2004, a plainclothes officer shot and killed 17-year-old Jeffery Reodica, and it's his brother, Jason, (renamed Jason DeJesus) who reckons with the aftermath of the killing as the protagonist of Badian's play. Like Starr in The Hate U Give, Jason grapples with his conflicted memories of Jeffery and a burgeoning desire to speak out against not only police violence, but the often discriminatory character assassination of victims that follows police killings.

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From our First Fiction Friday feature about The Making of St. Jerome, this excerpt stands out:

CHORUS: Tell us about your brother

JASON: [sighs]
He played the sax
Worked at Tim Hortons
He was a joker
A pretty good ball player
For 5’4”
An altar boy
Mom’s pride and joy

CHORUS: Tell us the truth

 

 

If you're looking for a followup to The Hate U Give, look no further: read  The Making of St. Jerome.

 

 

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