There have never been any strict rules on the young adult genre. As long as the protagonist is a teen, everything else is pretty much fair game. Pregnancy and drug use? Bring it on. A psychotic stalker obsessed with a group of teenage girls? Let’s make it a torturous teen television show. A boy in an abusive adoptive household who learns he’s a wizard? International, best-selling franchise.
When my Granny would let my preteen self loose in that section of the bookstore under the guise that it was age-appropriate, I felt like I was pulling the biggest scam. From my perspective, she was unknowingly footing the bill for books with super scandalous plot devices. But what I always loved about the young adult genre was that it acknowledged that young people have complex lives that address heavy issues, too. Given that commitment, it was only a matter of time before someone in the contemporary era used the genre to explore the Black Lives Matter movement.
The story has already been picked up to be turned in movie by Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions. Not bad at all for Thompson’s first novel. Documenting the current fight for Black liberation is well underway in film and television with documentaries like 13th and scripted series like Shots Fired. But The Hate U Give is finally bringing the movement to young people in the imaginative sense, and it’s exactly the kind of story we need right now. Not only does it feature a female protagonist with a dynamic story line, it brilliantly weaves in contemporary issues and pop culture.