The 100 Best YA Books of All Time
August 11, 2021 7:36 AM EDT

Two teenage friends, Starr and Khalil, reunite at a party. Though they both still live in the poor, Black neighborhood where they were inseparable as kids, they’ve drifted apart since Starr earned a scholarship to attend a fancy private school. Just when it looks like their friendship might become something more, a white cop pulls them over and fatally shoots Khalil as Starr watches in horror. This is the recurring nightmare of our time. And it’s only the beginning of this popular and acclaimed novel, which follows Starr’s quest for justice. Author Angie Thomas digs into the vastly different points of view her heroine must reconcile to make sense of her shattered world, from Starr’s privileged classmates to her struggling neighbors, and from her police-detective uncle to her dad, a reformed gang member who idolizes the Black Panthers. Speaking in the voice of a bright, principled and pop-culture-obsessed young woman who’s constantly code-switching, Thomas suggests that growing up means finding community and learning to care for the people who care for you. —Judy Berman

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