Angie Thomas

American Author

The Hate U Give is a spectacular, wonderful, and captivating debut novel by Angie Thomas. It was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement occasioned by the shooting of an unarmed teenager. The story is about a teen girl who is the only witness to her friend’s fatal shooting by a police officer and her struggle to come out and talk or keep silent.


Life Facts

  • Angie Thomas was born in 1988, in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • She witnessed a shootout when she was 6 years old.
  • Her mother took her to the library days after the shooting incident, to show her that the world wasn’t all like what she saw then, and this inspired her to begin writing.
  • Angie was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She still resides there.
  • She was a former teen rapper.

Interesting Facts

  • She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in creative writing at Belhaven University.
  • Thomas grew up in Jackson’s Georgetown neighborhood, a town that dominated by blacks
  • Thomas was the first black graduate in her school in her subject of Creative Writing.
  • Angie Thomas wrote her first novel while working as a bishop’s secretary at a megachurch in Mississippi.
  • She stopped her suicidal thoughts after listening to TLC’s Waterfalls, especially Lisa Lopes’ Left Eye’s rap about hopes and dreams.
  • The police shooting of Oscar Grant in 2009 inspired Thomas to write The Hate U Give.
  • A police union tried to have her removed from a school reading list because of The Hate U Give but the teachers and school authorities refused.


Famous Books by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give. This is her most famous book and also the first. It is a book that deals with police brutality and the unlawful shooting of an unarmed teenager. The protagonist of the novel is Starr Carter who witnessed the shooting of her friend, Khalil by a police officer who racially profiled him. She dealt with a lot of emotions and finally decided to speak up and get justice for her friend.

On the Come Up. This was Angie Thomas’ second book following the success of The Hate U Give, her first book. In this book, the author returned to Garden Heights to explore the life of another young black girl and her friends, family, and neighborhood. On the Come Up tells the story of Bri, who is living in a post-Khalil world and wants to make it into the Hip Hop music business. Thomas has mentioned that this novel is her answer to her critics and those who wanted The Hate U Give banned or censored.

Concrete Rose. This is Angie Thomas’ third book. In the book, she again went back to Graden Heights, the main venue for her stories. But this time, she went back in time, seventeen years earlier where the events that happened in The Hate U Give. The book details the story of a 17- years old Maverick Carter who struggles to become a real man and take care of his family.



Early Life

American writer Angie Thomas was born September 20, 1988, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Jackson, Mississippi. At age six, Thomas witnessed a life-changing incident in her town – a shootout in Georgetown. She grew up near the home of assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers and her mother reportedly heard the fateful gunshot. After the shootout, Angie’s mother took her to the library to show her that there was more to the world than what she saw that day, and this inspired Angie Thomas to later become a writer.

Later in her life, Thomas was greatly disturbed when her friends refused to cross a bridge into Jackson because they were afraid of going into the hood. She wanted to be a voice for the poor African American community to share the positive aspects of life there that are not shown in the media. As a teenager, Angie was passionate about rapping and had many artist handles she was using. One of the handles was Young Short-A, however, she was never signed to a record deal.


Literary Career

In 2011, while still a student at Belhaven University, Angie Thomas started writing her first novel, The Hate U Give. Because the story is pivoted around the Black Lives Matter movement, Thomas was nervous about approaching agents. She knew it was timely, but again it was a very delicate topic. However, her decision to use Twitter to contact an agent paid off for her. HarperCollins won the publishing rights to the book after a major auction for it. A movie deal also came on board which was later released in 2018.


Awards and Honors

The Hate U Give was a smash hit from the get-go, hitting number one on the New York Times Best-Seller list and garnering awesome reviews. It also got her some prestigious awards like the William C. Morris Award for first-time authors, a Coretta Scott King Award, a Michael L. Printz Award, and a place on the National Book Awards Longlist. Her second novel, On the Come Up, was published in 2019.

Angie Thomas also heard about the shooting of Oscar Grant in the news, and this alongside the death of many other young black people including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Sandra Bland was a major influence when she channeled this anger into her début novel, The Hate U Give.

Before writing The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas explored the fantasy genre but she wasn’t so sure it will sell. A college professor suggested that she use her personal experiences which were unique and consider writing stories of people who have been silenced or ignored. A year after publication, The Hate U Give film adaptation was released.


Legacy

Angie Thomas’ first book The Hate U Give is regarded as one of the books that have given the youth their voices back. Her book has empowered a lot of young people to stand for their rights and fight for them. Her book and the BLM movement are helping to fight systemic racism in the USA and all over the world.


Influence from Other Writers

Angie Thomas mentioned some authors who influenced her work as a young adult author. She mentioned people like Walter Dean Myers, Jason Reynolds, and Nic Stone.


Literature by Angie Thomas

Explore literature by Angie Thomas below, created by the team at Book Analysis.