The Hate U Give: Main Characters And Connection To The G.R.O.V.E.S. Way

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  2. STARR








The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a realistic fiction novel that provides a perspective on the two contrasting worlds of Starr Carter’s life: the poor, black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep schools that she attends. She believes that she has these two worlds perfectly balanced, but that is proven false after Starr becomes the witness to the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a white police officer. Starr struggles to find a voice as Khalil’s death becomes a national headline, and she’s the only person alive that can truly say what happened that night. What she does or doesn’t say could put her community or life at risk.


Starr is the protagonist of the novel who treads a thin line between two highly contrasting worlds: a poor black neighborhood called Garden Heights and a fancy white prep school called Williamson. She believes that she has to keep these worlds separate, and as a result she speaks slightly different depending on where she is. The Starr of Garden Heights often uses slang and improper grammar, and the Starr of Williamson pronounces everything carefully and makes sure to not let any of her casual mannerisms come out. Starr finds it extremely difficult to keep this uneasy balance intact after she witnesses the murder of her childhood best friend, Khalil, and eventually learns to find a voice for herself.


Seven is Starr’s half-brother, but just because he isn’t fully related to Starr doesn’t mean he loves her any less. He is very protective of his half-sisters at both his father and mother’s house, and he feels that he has to be the “man of the house” whenever his father isn’t around. After Starr witnesses Khalil’s murder, Seven makes absolutely sure that she doesn‘t let the tragedy completely crush her, and makes sure that she stays active by encouraging her to play basketball.


“Big Mav” as many of his old gang members call him, is Starr’s father. He was once a member of a gang called the King Lords, but facing the hardships of life on the streets has caused him to realize that there are other things in life worth fighting for, like his family. He teaches his children the ups and downs on how to stay alive and how to avoid being taken for granted as a result of the color of their skin. When Starr was three years old, he went to prison and ended up missing the most important years of his children’s lives. He owns a small grocery store in Garden Heights where Starr and Seven work part-time.


Lisa is Starr’s mother who knows her children inside and out, including Seven, who isn’t biologically hers. Speaking of which, she is one to forgive and forget, as she stayed with Maverick even after he had an affair that resulted in Seven. Lisa is very tough as a result of growing up with a tough mother of her own. She is a very strong female role model for Starr and encourages her to not let Khalil’s death prevent her from letting her own life go on.


Kenya, aside from the fact that she shares a brother with Starr, is basically Starr’s sister. She is her best friend from Garden Heights that essentially compliments Starr’s relaxed manner with her headstrong attitude. She is the daughter of King, leader of the King Lords, and is sort of spoiled by him. Before and after Starr witnesses Khalil’s murder, Kenya encourages her to stand up and be strong, whether it be in a physical fight or simply allowing her voice to be heard. She is proud of how far Starr has come, but jokingly mentions to not let that power go to her head.


These three met Starr at Williamson, and they have become very close to her. Chris is Starr’s white boyfriend who wants Starr to be able to open up to him about what’s going on in her head. Maya and Hailey are Starr’s best girl friends. They are polar opposites in a way. Maya is more quiet and tends to follow whatever Hailey does, and Hailey is loud and doesn’t care what comes out of her mouth. She is unaware of any prejudiced things she says and has Maya constantly remind her of that unjust behavior, only to be brushed off. Starr, still believing that her two worlds must be kept apart, refuses to allow these three to know that she was the one who witnessed Khalil’s death.


Uncle Carlos is Starr’s uncle on her mother’s side. He became more of a father figure to Starr after her father went to prison, and as a result is still very close to her. He lives in the suburbs and his house becomes the designated vacation spot for Starr’s family, and he lives in the same neighborhood as Starr’s friends from Williamson, so he knows them pretty well. Uncle Carlos provides Starr with a unique perspective after she witnesses Khalil’s murder, as he is a black man who is in the police force. He and Maverick have a sort of rivalry between them, and seem to be constantly competing for Starr’s favoritism.


DeVante befriends Starr and Seven about a week after Khalil’s murder. He is Starr’s age and became a King Lord so he could sell drugs to repay a debt that his mother owes the gang’s leader. DeVante knows the dangers of joining a gang at such a young age and tries to make the money a different way by getting a job at Maverick’s grocery store. He emphasizes with Starr and her experience with the loss of Khalil because the same night he was shot, DeVante’s brother was killed by a couple members of the King Lord’s rival gang, the Garden Disciples.


OPEN MINDED - Keep an open mind avoiding judgements and stereotypes.

The Hate U Give is heavily based upon the judgements and stereotypes of minorities, and a large amount of those prejudices are expressed through Hailey’s character. Hailey, although she is friends with Starr, a black girl, and Maya, an Asian girl, is unaware of the constant stream of insensitive things that come out of her mouth. She even goes as far as to say that Khalil had his death coming the moment he became a drug dealer, and prior to the events of the novel, jokingly asked Maya if they ate a cat for Thanksgiving dinner. Starr and Maya become sick of Hailey’s behavior and make their discomfort known, much to the frustration of Hailey, who believes she’s doing nothing wrong. Realizing that Hailey’s toxic behavior is never going to change, Starr and Maya make the decision to form a “minority alliance” and choose to speak up and stand up against any judgement or stereotype thrown their way.

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“We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay for them and normal for us” (Thomas 252).

EMPOWERMENT - Empower yourself and others to be the change you wish to see.

The theme of empowerment is carried throughout the novel, as Starr learns the importance of standing up and having a voice for herself. At the beginning of the novel, Starr makes a point to describe how she just wants to blend in, and even goes as far as to change her speech patterns in order to do so. After the death of Khalil, and realizing that she is the only person that can give Khalil any sort of justice as she is the only witness to his murder, she finds herself thrown out of her comfort zone and forced to make a decision: Stay quiet so you can’t be targeted, or speak up so you can do what is right.

At first, she chooses to try and get justice for Khalil the peaceful way, which is simply speaking up for him in court. Starr quickly learns that just speaking out is ineffective in this case, so she decides to go out and take action by protesting and even rioting… anything to allow her voice to be heard.

“People are realizing and shouting and marching and demanding. They’re not forgetting. I think that’s the most important part” (Thomas 444).

SUPPORT - Support and have empathy for others.

Starr’s neighborhood, Garden Heights, is infamous for the gangs known as King Lords and Garden Disciples. Being a part of one of these gangs means constantly having each other’s backs and not letting one loyal member fall. They know that if one person suffers the rest of the gang suffers with it. DeVante explains to Starr another reason why he joined the King Lords when he discusses how they were the closest thing he and his brother had to a family. His mother and sisters weren’t able to care for them, but the King Lords always had their backs. They gave DeVante and his brother clothes and made sure they were always fed. DeVante, even after

knowing that his mother and sisters couldn’t support him like the King Lords could, hated to see them go hungry. He felt like he didn’t have much of a choice if he wanted to help them, so he decided to join the gang in order to make money to feed his family as well as paying off a debt to the King Lord’s leader.

“It was just cool to have somebody take care of us for a change, instead of the other way around” (Thomas 238).

Although I was hesitant to read it at first, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Hate U Give. The book as such a casual writing style that is easy to read, and it explores really deep and important themes that the reader can grasp onto. There is very strong language in the book, including incredibly powerful racial slurs, which did make me a bit uncomfortable while reading it, but I do feel that they are necessary as they add to the sense of realism that the book already does so well to establish.

When thinking about who to recommend this book for, I tried to think of the youngest audience possible, as I feel that the positive messages the book shares are extremely important for people to hear. So, I would recommend this book to young adults who are mature enough to handle the strong language, mature themes, and graphic imagery, yet still impressionable enough to take the messages of the book to heart.

Honestly, I believe that everyone needs to hear Starr’s story, and put their own lives and beliefs aside to see the world through the eyes her character and how she struggles with her life as a result of the color of her skin.


  1. Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. New York, NY: Balzer + Bray, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018. Print.
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The Hate U Give: Main Characters And Connection To The G.R.O.V.E.S. Way. (2021, September 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from
“The Hate U Give: Main Characters And Connection To The G.R.O.V.E.S. Way.” Edubirdie, 14 Sept. 2021,
The Hate U Give: Main Characters And Connection To The G.R.O.V.E.S. Way. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Apr. 2024].
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