“The Hate U Give” is the selection for Santa Monica Reads 2019

Summer can be a time for leisurely, light-hearted fun, but it can also be a time for some serious reading.

This year’s Santa Monica Reads selection “The Hate U Give” definitely invites contemplation. Echoing real-life incidents of police brutality and seizing upon the zeitgeist of Black Lives Matter, the bestselling YA novel by Angie Thomas tells the story of Starr Carter, a 16-year-old African American girl who witnesses her childhood friend shot by police during a routine traffic stop. Drawn into the center of a national debate as she moves between her elite white prep school and black community, Starr must decide how she will respond to the incident. Will she speak out or shut up?

Throughout June and July the Santa Monica Public Library is hosting a variety of programming around the book’s questions and themes, including: discussions with trained facilitators throughout June and July; a talk on “code-switching” (altering how you express yourself based upon your audience) on Wednesday, June 19; a screening and discussion of the film version of “The Hate U Give,” starring Amandla Stenberg, on June 23; and a screening and discussion of Justin Simien’s brilliant satire of race relations “Dear White People” on June 25.

You can also express your thoughts on the book and its themes through a “Blackout Poetry” workshop on July 12; a multimedia production of “Race Relay” incorporating drama, music and video on July 13; or participate in the “Race Card Project.” An interactive display in Santa Monica Public Library’s main lobby, it invites you to jot down your experiences or observations about race anytime between 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 — the official start of Santa Monica Reads.

— Christina Campodonico

Santa Monica Reads continues with free events, book discussions and programming through July 30. Call (310) 458-8600 or visit smpl.org/SMReads.aspx for more info.