Explorations: my author blog

The Merchants of Death

It’s been a long time since I updated here: sorry! I am crossposting an entry from my live journal, with a short addition. It’s the clip above, in which a basically honest bartender gets involved with some very shady people out of greed.

Now to the blog post. A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I had the pleasure of going to the Simmons/Horn book Symposium. The theme was resistance, so it was timely, to say the least. I got to meet Richard Peck again! And he was on a panel with the winner for YA literature, Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give. This is a book you need to read carefully, without skimming or skipping around. When I first began reading it, I was doing both those things. And it seemed too polemical, too much a retelling of current events. When I read more slowly, though, I really appreciated the story, the characters, and the craft Thomas uses in bringing them into a whole. It’s pretty devastating, actually, but not without hope. 

Since she is a woman of color, Thomas is able to do some things a white writer could not. She presents her African-American teen characters with great empathy and nuance. The boy who dies in the story, Khalil, is by no means a bad kid. But he does make mistakes. He gets involved in gang activity, though he doesn’t want to and avoids becoming a gang member. When the police pull him over, he argues and is slow to cooperate. it’s nevertheless quite clear that Khalil and his friend Starr, the main character, are unarmed children who pose no threat to anyone. Khalil dies, anyway.