9 Topical And Timely Books Like The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give is a young adult novel by Angie Thomas that follows the story of 16-year-old Starr Carter, who is caught between two different worlds, those being the poverty-stricken neighborhood where she was born and raised, and the predominantly white, upper-class prep school she attends.

9 Topical And Timely Books Like The Hate U Give

One night, Starr witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. As the only witness to the incident, Starr is thrust into the national spotlight and becomes the center of a media frenzy and a powerful protest movement.

Starr must navigate the dangerous waters of speaking out about what she saw, all while dealing with the trauma of losing a loved one and the pressure from her community to stay quiet.

The book addresses themes of racial profiling, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement, and explores the challenges of growing up black in America. It also deals with issues of identity, community, and what it means to be a true ally.

If you are interested in more novels that deal with topical issues like those in The Hate U Give, then you are sure to enjoy books such as Dear Martin, Anger is a Gift, Tyler Johnson Was Here, and Long Way Down.

Themes In The Hate U Give

Racism And Racial Profiling

The novel tackles the issue of racial profiling and police brutality whilst showing the impact that such discrimination can have on a person’s life and community.


Starr struggles with her identity as she tries to navigate the different worlds of her neighborhood and her prep school. She must also figure out what it means to be true to herself and her community while balancing the expectations of others.

Activism And Social Justice

The book highlights the importance of activism and speaking out against injustices, as well as exploring the challenges and rewards of being an ally and fighting for change.


The novel portrays the strong sense of community and belonging that can exist in neighborhoods like Garden Heights, and shows how people can come together to support each other in the face of adversity.

Trauma And Grief

The shooting of Khalil has a profound impact on Starr and her family, and the book explores the effects of trauma and grief, both on an individual and a community level.


The Hate U Give examines the complexities of family relationships and the challenges of balancing family responsibilities with personal goals and beliefs.

Power And Privilege

The novel sheds light on the differences in power and privilege between Starr’s neighborhood and her prep school, whilst also showing how these factors can shape people’s experiences and perspectives.

Books Like The Hate U Give

The House On Mango Street By Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street

This coming-of-age novel focuses on a girl named Esperanza Cordero. Esperanza is a young Latina who is growing up in Chicago’s Latino neighborhood and she dreams of one day escaping the poverty and limited opportunities of her community.

The novel is composed of a series of vignettes that explore Esperanza’s experiences and observations of life on Mango Street, including her relationships with her family and friends, her first loves and heartbreaks, and her encounters with the broader world.

Through Esperanza’s eyes, Cisneros portrays the struggles of life in a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood, including poverty, domestic violence, and discrimination.

Despite these challenges, Esperanza remains hopeful and resilient, determined to one day break free from the constraints of her community and create a better life for herself.

She uses her love of writing to imagine a better future, and her stories serve as a testament to her courage and determination.


  • Poetic language
  • Empowerment of women and minorities
  • Authentic representation


  • The short vignette format might not be as appealing as a linear narrative to some readers

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Poverty, discrimination, growing up in a marginalized community, coming of age, empowerment, and identity.

Dear Martin By Nic Stone

Dear Martin

Dear Martin tells the story of Justyce McAllister, a high-achieving African American student who is arrested and beaten by a police officer while driving home from a party.

As he struggles to make sense of what happened, Justyce begins to write letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to process his thoughts and emotions.

Throughout the novel, Justyce grapples with issues of race, identity, and social justice, as he tries to understand the world around him and find his place in it.

He is also forced to confront the reality of racism and prejudice, both in his own experiences and in the larger society.

In addition to Justyce’s story, the novel also explores the experiences of other characters, including his best friend Manny, his love interest CJ, and a classmate named Jared, who is a member of a white supremacist group.

Through these characters, Stone delves into the complexities of race and the ways in which it can impact individuals and communities.


  • An inspiring protagonist
  • Educative


  • Somewhat slow pacing

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Police brutality, racism, identity, self-discovery, coming of age, social justice, and the importance of community.

American Street By Ibi Zoboi

American Street

This book follows the story of Fabiola Toussaint, a Haitian-American teenager who is forced to navigate the complexities of life in America after immigrating to Detroit with her mother.

Fabiola is soon faced with a series of challenges, including adapting to a new country, culture, and school, as well as dealing with the loss of her mother after she is detained by U.S. immigration and the struggle to stay with her family in America.

Along the way, she befriends a group of young women on American Street and begins to learn about their own experiences and the ways in which they have navigated the complexities of life in America.


  • Nuanced characters
  • Exploration of social issues
  • Authentic representation


  • Another book that is a little bit slow-paced

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Racism, identity, belonging, activism, prejudice, coming of age, discrimination, and social justice.

Tyler Johnson Was Here By Jay Coles

Tyler Johnson Was Here

This young adult novel is told from the perspective of Marvin Johnson, a high school student whose twin brother Tyler has been killed in a police shooting.

The book explores the aftermath of Tyler’s death and the ways in which Marvin and his family are impacted by this tragedy.

As Marvin tries to make sense of his loss and the systemic violence that took his brother’s life, he becomes more involved in activism and the fight for justice.


  • Evocative writing
  • Impactful storyline


  • The triggering content might be too much for some readers

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Discrimination, systemic racism, identity, social justice, police brutality, gun violence, and discrimination.

Girl, Woman, Other, By Bernadine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel (Booker Prize Winner)

Girl, Woman, Other is a novel that follows the stories of twelve black women living in the United Kingdom.

The book provides a nuanced and insightful examination of the lives of these women, exploring how they navigate the complexities of race, gender, and identity.

The book is structured in a non-linear fashion, with each chapter focusing on the experiences of a different woman.

Through these stories, the reader can gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of black womanhood and the unique challenges that these women face.

The characters in Girl, Woman, Other are diverse and well-developed, ranging from a successful playwright to a working-class lesbian to a single mother.

Through their stories, the reader is able to gain a nuanced and insightful understanding of the experiences of black women in the UK, exploring issues such as race, gender, sexuality, and class.


  • Diverse representation
  • Well-developed characters


The complex structure could be confusing to some

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Racism, police brutality, activism, empowerment, family, community, intersectionality, identity, and self-discovery.

All American Boys By Jason Reynolds And Brendan Kiely

All American Boys

All American Boys is a young adult novel that explores the theme of police brutality and racism through the perspectives of two high school students: Rashad, who is falsely accused of shoplifting and beaten by a police officer, and Quinn, a witness to the incident who is struggling with his own beliefs and values.


  • Relevant and timely themes
  • Unique perspectives


  • Some characters have a somewhat simplistic portrayal

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Racism, police brutality, self-discovery, activism, empowerment, the power of witnessing, family, community, and identity.

Anger Is A Gift By Mark Oshiro

Anger Is a Gift: A Novel

Anger is a Gift follows the story of Moss Jefferies, a high school student who is haunted by the death of his father six years ago when he was shot and killed by a police officer.

The book explores the theme of anger and how it can be a powerful motivator for activism and change.

Moss grapples with his anger and the pressure to stay quiet about the injustice he has experienced but ultimately decides to use his voice to speak out against the systemic problems that led to his father’s death.

Along the way, he faces resistance and pushback from both peers and authority figures but remains steadfast in his commitment to justice.


  • Topical and contemporary themes
  • A hugely diverse cast of characters


  • The addressing of uncomfortable topics might be difficult for some

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Racism, police brutality, self-discovery, empowerment, solidarity, community, relationships, family ties, activism, and social justice.

Long Way Down By Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down

This young adult novel tells the story of Will, a 15-year-old boy living in a tough neighborhood in Washington, D.C. After his older brother is murdered, Will takes a journey to avenge his brother’s death with a gun in hand.

During an elevator ride, Will encounters various ghosts, including his brother, who offer him advice and make him reflect on his actions. These ghosts are all connected via the three rules of Will’s neighborhood, those being don’t cry, don’t snitch, and get revenge.

Through these encounters, Will comes to understand the cyclical nature of violence and learns the importance of breaking the cycle. The book is written in verse, making the story both emotional and lyrical.

It is a powerful exploration of grief, loss, and the choices that young people make in difficult circumstances.

The actual story of the book takes place over the course of just one minute, with his encounters taking place as Will rides the elevator down from his apartment on the eighth floor.


  • Poetic and impactful writing
  • Unique story structure
  • Powerful character development


  • Short in length
  • Could be confusing due to the inclusion of ghosts as well as the non-linear narrative

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: The cycle of violence, systemic racism, loss, grief, self-discovery, personal growth, and the power of choice.

Middlesex By Jeffery Eugenides

Middlesex: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)

Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that follows the life of Cal Stephanides, a hermaphrodite, and their journey to discover their true identity and place in the world.

The novel spans three generations of the Stephanides family and explores the themes of family, identity, and the American Dream. The story is set against the backdrop of Detroit and spans several decades, from the early 1900s to the late 20th century.

Middlesex is a rich, multilayered, and emotionally complex novel that explores the complexities of gender, identity, and the American experience.


  • Exploration of gender and identity
  • An engaging and poetic writing style


  • Graphic sexual content which might not be suitable for some readers

Themes Similar to Those in The Hate U Give: Identity, familial bonds, injustice, racism, coming of age, the American experience for those considered “different”, belonging.

Final Thoughts

The Hate U Give and these books that we have talked about are similar in that they are all important, bringing important social and political issues to light, such as racism, gender identity, police brutality, social injustices, and more.

These books can help to start conversations and increase awareness and empathy for the experiences of those who are considered among the oppressed, such as those of color.

They also serve as a form of activism and can inspire people to work towards creating a more just and equal society.

Not only that, but novels such as The Hate U Give and the similar books we have mentioned on this list can offer comfort and validation to readers who have experienced similar struggles, and help to foster a sense of community and belonging.

Whether you read them for entertainment or education, there is no denying that the topical subjects that are brought up in these novels are highly important ones that need to be discussed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Hate U Give Based On A True Story?

While the book is not based on a specific true story, it was inspired by real-life events, including the Black Lives Matter movement and the high-profile police shootings of unarmed black people.

What Is The Significance Of The Title The Hate U Give?

The title The Hate U Give refers to the phrase “THUG Life,” which stands for “The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everybody.” The title is a play on words and reflects the idea that the violence and injustice that young people face can have a ripple effect throughout society.

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Noah Burton