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Book Nook - 26-02-2018

Monday, February 26, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to

Racism Alert
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas may be aimed at a YA readership, but it attacks racism in the US like a sledgehammer, and has turned out to be one of the most popular and acclaimed books in recent months.

The young writer creates in 16-year-old Starr, a brave black girl, who sees by the end of the story, that for a black person in racist America, there is no choice but to fight.

Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are bringing their children in a small town black ghetto called Garden Heights, but also trying to give them a way to a better life by sending them to an elite white school in an affluent white neighbourhood. All around her, Starr can see poverty and anger at the lack of opportunity for black kids, and their inevitable descent into crime. Teenaged boys and some girls get drawn into street gangs, and risk their lives by getting into the crosswires of cops and rival gangs.

At the age of ten, Starr saw her best friend killed in a random gangland shooting. The trauma stays in her mind, and blows up again when she witnessed the killing of her childhood friend Khalil by a white cop. Starr and her siblings are taught never to get confrontational with the cops, to keep their hands up, and refrain from making sudden moves. Khalil makes the error of getting aggressive with a white policeman, who shoots him at point blank range without a qualm, claiming that he mistook a hairbrush for a gun.

Starr has a white boyfriend Chris, one of her best friends is white, the other Chinese, and she never imagined that she would one day have to take a stand for people of her race. Her immediate instinct is to deny the existence of a small-time drug dealer in her life, but the injustice of the killing of an unarmed boy, and the attempt to discredit Khalil as a gangster makes her overcome her fear and agree to appear before a grand jury.  She also sees how the cops humiliate her father by forcing him to lie face down on the ground as they search him; it is their way of warning her against speaking out against one of their own.

The incident of ‘encounter’ killings of black men is so common that were it not for protests by black people, the media would probably not even notice. Starr’s uncle is a cop, and he witnesses helplessly as the incident ignites the Garden Heights community and riots break out. Starr unwittingly becomes the centre of the storm that lashes the town.

The book comes out of Thomas’s own experiences, and though there is rage as well as poignancy in the pages, there is also hope tinged with love. Chris is a wonderfully written character, a rich brat with amazing courage and empathy. Starr is surrounded by people who love her, not just her parents and grandmother but also her uncles, aunt, cousins, and a half-brother, Seven. Thomas is not blind or naïve enough to suggest that there is no crime or violence in the ghettos, but her book makes a case for understanding the underlying problems and trying to solve them.

Thomas’s descriptions are evocative, her ear for colloquial dialogue impeccable. The Hate U Give is an outstanding debut novel, powerful and haunting.

Excerpt of The Hate U Give
I shouldn’t have come to this party.

I’m not even sure I belong at this party. That’s not on some bougie shit, either. There are just some places where it’s not enough to be me. Neither version of me. Big D’s spring break party is one of those places.

I squeeze through sweaty bodies and follow Kenya, her curls bouncing past her shoulders. A haze lingers over the room, smelling like weed, and music rattles the floor. Some rapper calls out for everybody to Nae-Nae, followed by a bunch of “Heys” as people launch into their own versions. Kenya holds up her cup and dances her way through the crowd. Between the headache from the loud-ass music and the nausea from the weed odor, I’ll be amazed if I cross the room without spilling my drink.

We break out the crowd. Big D’s house is packed wall-to-wall. I’ve always heard that everybody and their momma comes to his spring break parties—well, everybody except me—but damn, I didn’t know it would be this many people. Girls wear their hair colored, curled, laid, and slayed. Got me feeling basic as hell with my ponytail. Guys in their freshest kicks and sagging pants grind so close to girls they just about need condoms. My nana likes to say that spring brings love. Spring in Garden Heights doesn’t always bring love, but it promises babies in the winter. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them are conceived the night of Big D’s party. He always has it on the Friday of spring break because you need Saturday to recover and Sunday to repent.
“Stop following me and go dance, Starr,” Kenya says. “People already say you think you all that.”

“I didn’t know so many mind readers lived in Garden Heights.” Or that people know me as anything other than “Big Mav’s daughter who works in the store.” I sip my drink and spit it back out. I knew there would be more than Hawaiian Punch in it, but this is way stronger than I’m used to. They shouldn’t even call it punch. Just straight-up liquor. I put it on the coffee table and say, “Folks kill me, thinking they know what I think.”

“Hey, I’m just saying. You act like you don’t know nobody ’cause you go to that school.”

I’ve been hearing that for six years, ever since my parents put me in Williamson Prep. “Whatever,” I mumble.

“And it wouldn’t kill you to not dress like . . .” She turns up her nose as she looks from my sneakers to my oversized hoodie. “That. Ain’t that my brother’s hoodie?”

Our brother’s hoodie. Kenya and I share an older brother, Seven. But she and I aren’t related. Her momma is Seven’s momma, and my dad is Seven’s dad. Crazy, I know. “Yeah, it’s his.”

“Figures. You know what else people saying too. Got folks thinking you’re my girlfriend.”

“Do I look like I care what people think?”

“No! And that’s the problem!”

“Whatever.” If I knew following her to this party meant she’d be on some Extreme Makeover: Starr Edition mess, I would’ve stayed home and watched The Fresh Prince reruns. My Jordans are comfortable, and damn, they’re new. That’s more than some people can say. The hoodie’s way too big, but I like it that way. Plus, if I pull it over my nose, I can’t smell the weed.

“Well, I ain’t babysitting you all night, so you better do something,” Kenya says and scopes the room. Kenya could be a model, if I’m completely honest. She’s got flawless dark-brown skin—I don’t think she ever gets a pimple—slanted brown eyes, and long eyelashes that aren’t store-bought. She’s the perfect height for modeling too, but a little thicker than those toothpicks on the runway. She never wears the same outfit twice. Her daddy, King, makes sure of that.

Kenya is about the only person I hang out with in Garden Heights—it’s hard to make friends when you go to a school that’s forty-five minutes away and you’re a latchkey kid who’s only seen at her family’s store. It’s easy to hang out with Kenya because of our connection to Seven. She’s messy as hell sometimes, though. Always fighting somebody and quick to say her daddy will whoop somebody’s ass. Yeah it’s true, but I wish she’d stop picking fights so she can use her trump card. Hell, I could use mine too. Everybody knows you don’t mess with my dad, Big Mav, and you definitely don’t mess with his kids. Still, you don’t see me going around starting shit.

The Hate U Give
By Angie Thomas
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 444

Today making an impression at the workplace is so important that dressing is considered a science. According to the summary of a new book, ““The corporate world is competitive and challenging, where a crucial survival skill is dressing according to the job profile and that organization’s culture. Nandita Pandey’s Dressology: The Science of Power Dressing talks directly to the working Indian man and woman with references that are local and relatable. Full of tips and tricks that can be easily incorporated into one’s daily life, this easy-to-read guide focuses on simple steps that can help present oneself appropriately, confidently and successfully in a corporate setting. Featuring interviews of top industry executives in India, this book reveals the secrets to making a great first impression.”

lDressology: The Science Of Power Dressing By Nandita Pandey Published by: Pan Macmillan The first collection of poetry by Instagram sensation Atticus is Love Her Wild “is a collection of new and beloved poems from Atticus, the young writer who has captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of avid followers on his Instagram account @atticuspoetry, including superstars like Karlie Kloss and Shay Mitchell. He was dubbed the “#1 poet to follow” by Teen Vogue and “the world’s most tattoo-able” poet by Galore magazine, in Love Her Wild, Atticus captures what is both raw and relatable about the smallest and the grandest moments in life: the first glimpse of a new love in Paris; skinny dipping on a summer’s night; the irrepressible exuberance of the female spirit; or drinking whiskey in the desert watching the rising sun. With honesty, poignancy, and romantic flair, Atticus distills the most exhilarating highs and the heartbreaking lows of life and love into a few perfectly evocative lines, ensuring that his words will become etched in your mind—and will awaken your sense of adventure.”

Love Her Wild
By Atticus
Published by Hachette
Pages: 225

 Land of The Gods is the second in a trilogy by teen author Abhishek Roy, which, according to the summary “is a race against time… The deadline for siphoning out of Earth’s mass is only hours away. While Mathias is still stuck on Earth, Ram has reached the alternate dimension Asr-Gawa in search of his father. Mathias’s mission: to stop the mass transfer, save Earth and reach Asr-Gawa at the same time. The second novel in the Dimensions Series unravels Mathias’s discovery of mind-blowing secrets about the development of Earth’s civilisation and the truth about his birth.”

Land Of The Gods
By Abhishek Roy
Publisher: The Write Place
Pages: 402

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