Starr Carter is a 16-year-old African-American woman who lives in the imaginary, mainly bad black neighborhood of Garden Heights, however participates in an affluent predominantly white independent school, Williamson Prep. One weekend, after cops separate a celebration Starr is attending, she is driven house by her youth best friend Khalil. They are visited a white policeman. The officer instructs Khalil, who is African American, to leave the vehicle; while outside the cars and truck, Khalil leans into the driver-side window to sign in on Starr. The officer then fires three shots into Khalil, eliminating him.
Khalil’s death becomes a nationwide newspaper article. The media depicts Khalil as a gang banger and drug dealership, while representing the white officer who eliminated him more favorably. Starr’s identity as the witness is at first concealed from everybody outside Starr’s household, including her younger bro Sekani. Keeping the secret from her white boyfriend Chris and her best friends Hailey Grant and Maya Yang — who all attend Williamson Prep — weighs on Starr, as does her need to keep her Williamson and Garden Heights personalities different. Starr’s battles with her identity are further complicated after her mother gets a higher-paying job and the family moves out of Garden Heights.
Starr accepts an interview with police about the shooting after being motivated by her Uncle Carlos, who is also a detective. Carlos was a father figure to Starr when her dad, Maverick, spent 3 years in jail for gang activity. Following his release, Maverick leaves the gang and ends up being the owner of the Garden Heights supermarket where Starr and her half-brother Seven work. Radical was only permitted to leave his gang, the King Lords, since he admitted to a crime to secure gang-leader King. Widely feared in the neighborhood, King now deals with 7’s mom, Seven’s half-sister Kenya, who is pals with Starr, and Kenya’s little sibling Lyric.
After a grand jury fails to prosecute the white officer, Garden Heights erupts into both peaceful protests and riots. The failure of the criminal justice system to hold the officer accountable presses Starr to take an increasingly public role, first offering an newsmedia interview and after that speaking out during the protests, which are satisfied by police in riot equipment. Her increasing identification with the people of Garden Heights causes tension with Starr’s friends, especially with her boyfriend Chris. But by the end of the unique, Starr and Maya have actually begun withstanding Hailey’s racist comments while Chris offers assistance to Starr.
The climax of the novel happens throughout the riot following the grand jury choice. Starr, Chris, 7, and DeVante — who Maverick helped leave the King Lords — effectively safeguard Maverick’s shop from King. The neighborhood withstands King and as a result of statement by DeVante, King is apprehended and anticipated to be put behind bars for a prolonged sentence. Starr guarantees to keep Khalil’s memory alive and to continue her advocacy against oppression.