Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
A routine traffic stop turns tragic for two African American teens, leaving one dead and the other irrevocably changed by the shooting and its aftermath of legal battles, survivor's guilt, and race riots. Thomas's fictionalized story of the Black Lives Matter movement is powerful, and the star turn here by reader Turpin makes it all the more riveting. Turpin, who was PW's 2016 Narrator of the Year, delves into the character of Starr, who struggles with whether to come forward with the truth about the shooting when doing so means her own life will come under terrible scrutiny. She conveys the complexity of the 16-year-old protagonist who sounds both youthful and mature for her age, as she relies on code-switching to navigate two different social settings-her mostly black neighborhood and mostly white school-until, partway through the novel, she starts breaking all the rules she's previously used to compartmentalize her life. Turpin also turns in memorable performances for various supporting characters, especially Starr's parents, who come from contrasting backgrounds and approach Starr's crisis differently, and several of the kids at school. Turpin's remarkable sensitivity carries this performance to the ranks of greatness. A HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray hardcover. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Starr has learned to adapt her personality to fit two worlds. "Garden Heights Starr" helps her ex-gangbanger father in his neighborhood grocery. "Williamson Starr" has a white boyfriend, and is one of the few black students at a tony prep school in an exclusive part of town. When gunshots ring out at a Garden Heights party, Starr and her friend Khalil leave. Soon after, Khalil makes an innocent but unanticipated move at a traffic stop, and Starr witnesses his death by a white officer. In the ensuing weeks and months, Starr deals with reactions: her own, her family's, and those of her inner-city neighbors and upscale private school friends. Starr's first-person narration creates an immediacy that draws listeners into the anger and grief.she is feeling, while also acknowledging that Khalil may have been involved with drugs and that gang activity is driving families out of Garden Heights. Debut author Thomas populates her story with true-to-life characters-flaws and all. Starr's family members are particularly well-drawn. Bahni Turpin perfectly captures dialect, cadence, and slang, providing each individual with nuanced tones. At times, Starr's voice is thoughtful and gentle; at others, it is spitting out four-letter words in frustration and outrage. -VERDICT A thought-provoking, highly current, and worthy addition that will enhance most high school collections.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two very different worlds: one is her home in a poor black urban neighborhood; the other is the tony suburban prep school she attends and the white boy she dates there. Her bifurcated life changes dramatically when she is the only witness to the unprovoked police shooting of her unarmed friend Khalil and is challenged to speak out though with trepidation about the injustices being done in the event's wake. As the case becomes national news, violence erupts in her neighborhood, and Starr finds herself and her family caught in the middle. Difficulties are exacerbated by their encounters with the local drug lord for whom Khalil was dealing to earn money for his impoverished family. If there is to be hope for change, Starr comes to realize, it must be through the exercise of her voice, even if it puts her and her family in harm's way. Thomas' debut, both a searing indictment of injustice and a clear-eyed, dramatic examination of the complexities of race in America, invites deep thoughts about our social fabric, ethics, morality, and justice. Beautifully written in Starr's authentic first-person voice, this is a marvel of verisimilitude as it insightfully examines two worlds in collision. An inarguably important book that demands the widest possible readership. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: From the moment this book sold, it has been high-profile. An in-the-works movie adaptation will further push this to the head of the class.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2016 Booklist
Horn Book Review
African American sixteen-year-old Starr Carter lives a life caught between her rough, predominantly black neighborhood and the "proper," predominantly white prep school she attends. This precarious balance is broken when Starr witnesses the shooting of her (unarmed) childhood friend Khalil by a police officer. Debut author Thomas is adept at capturing the voices of multiple characters in her powerful, in-your-face novel. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.