Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I don’t usually review Traditionally Published books on this blog because I am usually too lazy. Sorry, it’s the truth. But also because most of these books already have a gazillion reviews so I’m thinking, “they can’t miss my little review.”

But…

I have decided to change things up a bit and review traditional as well as Indie books on this blog. 

The first book I’ll review (because I just finished it so it’s still fresh and it’s the latest talk right now) is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is being made into a movie this fall.


Author: Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition Later Printing edition (February 28, 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0062498533

ISBN-13: 978-0062498533

WRITER'S WEDNESDA

Basically, I loved this book and it was refreshing to pick up something that kept me glued to the page (or screen rather) for the first time since I read American Marriage (another must read). I am not surprised Thomas got a movie deal because reading this was like watching a movie. I yearned to physically see everything that was going on and I am thankful that we’ll get to do just that this fall.

Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses her best friend Khalil, an unarmed black male, get gunned down by a white police officer. This book gives us a personal and up-close look at the Black Lives Matter movement through the eyes of Starr, her family and the pain experienced by their community and Black America in general at this very hour. The Hate U Give is a spelling out of the acronym Thug Life as made popular by rapper Tupac. “The Hate U Give Little Infants F—s Everybody.”

If you know me, you know I love history and writing historical fiction. I enjoy writing Black Historical Fiction because it’s fun for me to place fictitious people in the midst of real events that happened in the past. That’s what this book is like except it’s a modern, new-school, updated, millennial version (I seriously felt real old reading this and the Tupac thing was a little much for me. I get it but I don’t think he was the best thing since sliced bread lol) and I think it’s perfect for young adults. There’s enough history to educate (references to Nat Turner, and the Black Panthers for example) but in a way that young people can understand and won’t get bored with. The way the author broke down the meaning behind the book’s title, “The Hate U Give” through the dialogue between Starr and her father was well done.

Everything about the book was well-written from the dialogue to the characters and the events taking place. For Starr and her friend’s age, everything they did and said was authentic. Even though the movie is coming out and I had heard all the rage, I wanted to read this for myself. I am not one to jump on bandwagons so I wasn’t going to champion this unless I had read it for myself. I have to say, Angie did not let me down. I even liked the doggie Brickz (“Brickz you been pissing on my roses?” Loll)

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

In Theaters October 19, 2018

Next:

Men we Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

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New Author Tip: Warning – Do Not Publish that First Draft

You’ve finished your book. This is admirable (because so many people never finish) and worthy of celebration. Congratulations!

But, while this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, you are not done. Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

A rule of thumb is that you do not publish a book you just finished writing. After you’ve finished writing your book, your manuscript is now considered the First Draft. It’s called the First Draft because it is the first copy of the book ever in existence where no changes have been made. It is a rough draft of the story straight from your mind to the page. According to Innovative Editing:

“In any piece of writing, whether a novel manuscript or a blog post, the first draft is also known as a rough draft. From start to finish, it’s technically a complete piece. It has a beginning that moves to a middle that concludes with an ending. But it’s a messy complete piece. There are still thoughts to ground, sentences to be revised for maximum reader engagement, and spelling errors to fix. Which is why a rough draft should never, ever, ever be your final draft.”

Once you’ve finished the actual writing part, it’s a good idea to let the manuscript sit for awhile. Take a few weeks off from the writing and go do something else. In a few weeks time, return to it with fresh eyes to begin your self-edits. A strange but helpful thing for me when self-editing on the computer is to turn my document into a PDF. For some reason, I catch mistakes easier this way. It’s the electronic way of printing the book out (which at some point you’ll want to do with your highlighter and pen ready.)

It may also help to take out a notebook and go chapter by chapter (maybe this week is Chapter One and maybe next week is Chapter Two.) This is what I did when self-editing Renaissance. I looked at each Chapter one at a time and wrote about it in my notebooks (things that didn’t make sense, add up, were inconsistent, contradictory etc. I am preparing to do the same with Book Two, which I’ve let sit a long while so it’s time to get back to it.)

The idea is to take the manuscript through enough revisions so that it starts to make sense and then you can send it in to be big edited but please, do not publish that first draft. It will need to be revised first. It is a rough draft.


I AM SOUL, my short collection of poetry, is now available.

CLICK HERE

Writer’s Wednesday – Beyond the Colored Line

Sooo. Yea. One reason I don’t like saying what I am going to do is because I end up not doing it (don’t ever say what you will do. Bad idea.) So, when I said Chapter 3 of The Men with Blue Eyes was coming this week I did not anticipate not finishing it. But yea, it’s not finished. So, this week I am sharing a Chapter from my novella “Beyond the Colored Line” (2015) instead. Enjoy.


September 4, 1923

“You’s white.”

Margaret and Josephine had their hands on their hips again, Josephine taking the lead role as always. The wind felt soft against their skin and swayed the handmade dresses in all directions, hovering well below her long, skinny legs.

Her pony tails were twists that never really wanted to stay together. Stella got lost for a minute. Slightly envious. She wished her hair was as thick as Josephine’s. But instead hers could never keep a braid. School had just started at Crestwood Elementary of Belvedere City, just south of Boone County Illinois and already Stella could see this would not be a good year. Same as always.

“I’m not white; I’m Negro, same as you.”

Josephine rolled her eyes, “You look white. You sound white. I thinks you white.”

The girls laughed. Meanwhile, Stella’s blood boiled. Her hazel eyes darkened, blonde hair glistened in the sun, and the blush of anger showed quickly in the space of her cheeks and around her ears.

“You’s white ‘cause we say you’s white,” said Margaret.

“That’s right”, co-signed Josephine, “what kind of name is Stella anyway? What, you some kind of slave?”

“Naw, said Margaret, “she ain’t no slave, she massa.”

Josephine turned her head toward Margaret and laughed in her ear but Margaret saw it coming from her peripheral.

“Josephine!” she yelled. But it was too late. Stella was already on top of Josephine pulling her neatly pressed hair and slamming her face into the dirt. She could hear the screams of the teachers nearby calling her name but she just couldn’t stop.

“I’m not white! I’m not white! I’m the same as you!” she yelled, hot tears streaking down her face.

Josephine was crying now as Margaret tried to peel Stella off her.

“I’m Negro the same as you!” she yelled, slamming Josephine’s face into the ground, the screams from the teachers nearing, inaudible to the anger that consumed her.

Later that Day

Judith stood by the door, tapping her foot impatiently against the hardwood floor as she burned a hole in the back of Stella’s head who sat silently on the sofa, her head down.

“You’re going to have to learn to control yourself Stella.”

“But Mom—”

“Did I ask you to say a word?” Scolded Judith, opening the door at the same time. She expected her guest and opened before she could knock. Mrs. Velma Connor, Stella’s teacher, walked in.

“Good Afternoon, I’d like to apologize again for what happened today. May I offer you some coffee?”

“Never mind that”, said Velma, “I don’t specs to be here long.”

“Well”, said Judith, “let me offer you to a seat then.”

The women walked over to the sofa. Judith sat beside Stella as Velma took the sofa across from them and cleared her throat.

“Stella seems to be having a difficult time adjusting. Her temper is far too easily tickled, if you catch my meaning.”

I do”, said Judith.

“We think perhaps she would be better off in a more comfortable environment. Somewhere more of her liking, if you catch my meaning.”

Judith straightened and looked Velma in her sparkling blue eyes, “Not exactly.”

“Well, Ms. May, the accusations from some of the children are hard to ignore.”

“What accusations?”

“Well, you know. Children will be children,” Velma laughed, “It’s just that they don’t take very well with our kind. Surely you ‘d prefer for Stella— “

“Our kind?” interrupted Judith.

“Why, yes.”

“You don’t have to say anything more Mrs. Conner”, said Judith standing. The fair-skinned woman smoothed the apron hanging from her waist and walked to the door. Opening it, she turned to Stella.

“Stella Mae?”

“Yes mama?”

“Go on upstairs so me and your teacher can talk.”

“Yes ma’am”, said Stella, hurrying up the stairs.

Velma remained seated, “Is there a problem?”

Judith smiled, “No. There’s no problem but I do want you to leave my house.”

Velma’s cheeks turned red as she stood, pointing her nose in the air and strolling toward the door. Her face cringing a scowl.

“By the way, the school has placed Stella under suspension, you understand why.”

“Oh, I do”, said Judith, “you see, defending ourselves, is what we’re taught.”

Confusion washed over Velma’s face as she stared into the green eyes of the white woman in front of her, disgusted that she would stoop so low as to lay with one of them.

“What we’re taught? I’m not sure I follow.”

“Oh yes,” said Judith, “It’s one of the first things my Negro father taught me. You know, our kind I guess.”

The pink rushed to the woman’s nose as she hurried out the door.

And that’s how things had been for us growing up. I couldn’t understand what made Mama so strong. She loved Daddy with every bone in her body but society would never have of it. Mama was Negro sure enough as she was white but Papa didn’t trust it. Being with the love of his life was just too costly for him I guess. I thought about Papa that day and all the days afterward as I stood at the top of the stairs, and watched as my mother waved goodbye to my racist teacher with a smile on her face.

– Stella


This book is available now on Amazon.

Get it free in exchange for an honest review. Email me HERE


“Stella: Beyond the Colored Line is a fascinating walk through the ages–from slavery, to segregation, to the black power movement, to modern times. Through the eyes of one mixed race woman, the author touches on major events in African American history, allowing the reader to experience them in real time. The story deepens when Stella decides to live as a white woman and raise her children as whites. As her family grows and develops within a changing society, Stella and her children reveal complex perspectives and attitudes that make it clear that it doesn’t matter who your ancestors were. Nothing is just simply black or white.”

– Christa Wojo.,

Amazon Customer Review

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 2: The Men with Blue Eyes

Chapter 2 – Missing

Did you miss Chapter One? Start Here!


“Ronnie, no!”

Tina shot up, swung her legs off the bed and snatched her robe from the hook on the door. Pulling it tighter around her body she was in Janiyah’s room in an instant and rocking the seventeen-year-old in her arms. There was no explanation needed and no sound escaped either of the women’s mouths except the whispered shooing coming from Tina. She rocked and rubbed the young woman’s head with her eyes closed. This had become her routine. Running into Janiyah’s room in the early mornings, holding her through the nightmares she didn’t think would have lasted this long. She also worried she could not sympathize with her sister’s daughter as intimately as she wanted. After all, she wasn’t there but Niyah was. To lose your baby brother in such a violent way was one thing. To witness his murder was another thing. And then, there was the other thing.

Tina’s cell vibrated in the other room, the loud hum calling out to her. Peering down at her exhausted teenager, she removed her arms and let the girl’s drowsy body fall back into the sheets and covering her, Tina tippy toed out the room.

“Hmm.” She looked down at the tiny screen and plopped down on the bed. That was odd. What was the office doing calling her so early? She looked toward the window. The sky was still dark, the sun not yet peeking through. She still couldn’t believe the city settled and despite four people living here, the house was still too big, though no amount of money could bring her nephew back. She threw herself back into the bed and called the number back.

“You better have a good reason for calling me so early in the morning,” she laughed, pausing as the person on the other end spoke.

“What?” Tina’s smile faded and she shot back up in the bed.

“Everyone? How is that even possible?”

Balancing the cell between her ear and shoulder, she slipped on a pair of jogging pants. Trying to do the same with a blouse was not going to work.

“Hold on a minute…” Placing the phone on the bed she slipped on her shirt and decided it was best to put the phone on speaker.

“The phones are blowing up over here. Officer Parks said she started getting them as early as last night,” said the caller.

“Calls? What calls? I thought I told you to hold…”, she said before almost slipping on a sock. She picked it up and put it on. Now if she could just find the other one. Tina wasn’t the organized type at home. What she could do in the courtroom somehow did not manifest in her private life. It was one of the worries she had about being a mom. Lawyers didn’t exactly have a lot of time on their hands. She found herself hiring a Nanny against her better judgment to help maintain that balance. She had little time for laundry and housework and now that Janiyah had her license she could pick up her brother and sister from school. She did make it a point to be back in time to make dinner and spend time with the kids. It made her feel motherly like she was upholding her end of the bargain. Ms. Alice was not allowed to cook for her family except on occasion and during emergencies. This was one of them.

“All I know is you better get your butt down here asap.”

“I’m on my way,” said Tina looking under the bed, “Where in the world is that other sock?”

“Yea, I know what that means. I’ll give you an hour,” said the caller.

“Freddy, chill. I said I’m on my way.”

“Your on-the-way has a different meaning from everyone elses. Yours means two hours from now”, chuckled Freddy.

Tina rolled her eyes and hung up on her partner.

“Kayla! Michael!” she yelled, grabbing the toiletries bag on her way out the door. She’d only have time to jump in and out the shower.

She bypassed Janiyah’s room and climbed the stairs where a giant blue M hung against a door. She banged.

“Michael!”

She turned around and ran down the short hall where a giant pink K hung, she banged, “Kayla!”

Running back downstairs Tina revisited the slightly open door from earlier and peered in, “Niyah, ya’ll come on. I need ya’ll to get up.”

The young woman stirred and slowly sat up, a black night scarf covering her head. Her elegantly arched eyebrows shot up, “What time is it?”

Tina smirked. She didn’t know how she did it, but Janiyah managed to be cute at every occasion, even after waking up. The nose ring she begged Tina for didn’t look bad against her golden-brown skin. Janiyah scratched at her nose as if reading Tina’s thoughts and as she could have guessed, her nails were freshly done.

“I need you to call Ms. Alice, tell her I need her to come in early. Like, right now.”

“OK.” Janiyah patted her head and then laughed, “Where’s your other sock?”

Tina cut her eyes and smirked as she turned away from the room to head back across the hall.

“Mike, KK. Up. Now!”

As she prepared the shower her mind flooded with Freddy’s urgent message.

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Everyone involved in the Ja’mella case were missing. The men accused of the rape, their girlfriends, the police officers, the journalist who wrote about it, even the detectives who investigated the case. Gone. “How was that possible?” Tina pondered as the shower poured its steaming hot blessings over her body. It didn’t make sense. The black men accused of raping Ja’mella Jones, a famous hair stylist on Chicago’s West Side, had been found innocent after the woman admitted she made it all up. Ja’mella even opened her store back up last year. From every angle, it just didn’t add up. At least physically it didn’t.

Tina stopped moving, letting the water drench her skin. How could she have forgotten the most important piece of the puzzle? Her nephew Ronnie.

She tried to tell him about these streets and his loyalty to Big Sam ultimately cost him his life. THEY had killed him. Is that why the city had settled? Who would want to admit that Ronnie’s death was not by the hands of men but…

Tina shook her head. It’s these kinds of thoughts that got her in trouble in the first place. Still, she couldn’t shake the truth and her skin shivered from something more than the cooling water. Her skin had also started to wrinkle. Her “quick” shower had lasted longer than she wanted it too.

Tina pulled the dry towel from off the top of the shower rod. She knew. Had known all this time that Big Sam wasn’t human and that Ronnie’s death was no accident. And something told her the Ja’mella case was connected and that she was not the only person who knew. Someone was trying to keep it hush hush. Or something.

How Different Types of Reading Change Your Writing

Interesting post on how reading impacts writing. I’ve been saying this for years. Post Quote:

“This article describes a study in which a group of adult readers identified their most frequently read materials such as online magazines (and memes), newspapers, genre and literary fiction, and other written sources. Researchers then looked at the level of writing that each participant exhibited and found a correlation between what types of material people read and the complexity of their writing.”

Kristen Twardowski

You are what you read. That is a simple enough concept, but it turns out that it means more than just that people who read mysteries may become better at writing mysteries. What a person reads fundamentally changes the structure of his or her writing.

In June of 2016, the International Journal of Business Administration published “Syntactic and Lexical Complexity of Reading Correlates with Complexity of Writing in Adults”.  (You can read the full text of the article online.) This article describes a study in which a group of adult readers identified their most frequently read materials such as online magazines (and memes), newspapers, genre and literary fiction, and other written sources. Researchers then looked at the level of writing that each participant exhibited and found a correlation between what types of material people read and the complexity of their writing. People who spend most of their time reading Buzzfeed articles…

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Over-Thinking

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http://silverthreading.com/2015/01/07/writers-quote-wednesday-what-a-wonderful-world2015-2/

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Have you ever ripped your house into pieces trying to find something, only to realize it sitting right there in the most conspicuous place? We’ve all been there, looking for the answer when it’s staring us smack down in the face. The problem is that when you over-think situations you put yourself in a bad mood; you literally drain all the positivity out of you. I know that some of you are so obsessed with forecasting that you’ll research your head if it wasn’t attached to your bodies. Sometimes we don’t need to plan the next move, we just need to pay attention and be still. Don’t over-think the situation because in most cases the answer is already in front of you, just wait for your eyes to adjust to the light, so that you can see it.

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