The novel’s protagonist, Starr is a sixteen-year-old black teenager who witnesses the shooting of her unarmed friend, Khalil. Starr lives in the primarily black, lower-class neighborhood of Garden Heights but attends Williamson Prep, a… read analysis of Starr Carter
Starr’s childhood best friend, Khalil is a teenager from Garden Heights who is shot and killed by One-Fifteen, a white police officer, during a traffic stop. Dismissed by many in the media as… read analysis of Khalil Harris
Starr’s father, Lisa’s husband, and a former felon, Maverick was essentially born into a life of crime. His father was one of the biggest drug dealers in Garden Heights, but Maverick decided to… read analysis of Maverick Carter
Mother to Starr and Sekani, wife to Maverick, and step-mother to Seven, Lisa is a deeply loving and supportive presence in her children’s lives. After becoming pregnant with Starr as a teenager… read analysis of Lisa Carter
The daughter of King and Iesha, Kenya is also Seven’s half-sister and one of the few people in Garden Heights with whom Starr has remained close. Starr describes her as being pretty enough… read analysis of Kenya
Starr’s boyfriend, Chris is a wealthy white student at Williamson who bonds with Starr over their shared love of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, sneakers, and rap music. Starr attempts to hide her… read analysis of Chris
Carlos is Lisa’s older brother and a detective on the same police force as One-Fifteen. A second father figure to Starr, Carlos helped take care of the Carter children while Maverick was… read analysis of Uncle Carlos
Devante is a teenager from Garden Heights whose brother is killed at Big D’s party in the beginning of the story. He becomes involved with the King Lords to help support his family, and… read analysis of DeVante
Hailey is Starr’s oldest friend at Williamson, the two having grown close when Hailey’s mother died of cancer around same time that Natasha was killed. Their friendship unravels over the course of the novel… read analysis of Hailey Grant
Maya is a close friend of Starr’s at Williamson. She is on the basketball team with Starr and Hailey, and initially tries to keep the peace between the three. An Asian American, Maya… read analysis of Maya Yang
King is the biggest drug dealer in Garden Heights, a leader of the King Lords, and father to Kenya and Lyric. He is abusive towards both his girlfriend Iesha and his daughters, and reviled… read analysis of King
Seven, Kenya, and Lyric’s mother, and King’s girlfriend. Seven resents Iesha’s lack of maternal support. She is also a sore spot in Starr’s parents’ relationship, as Maverick cheated on Lisa with… read analysis of Iesha
Starr and Seven’s little brother and a frequent source of comic relief. At eight years old, Sekani does not yet understand the nuances and racial tensions of his neighborhood. At the end of the… read analysis of Sekani Carter
One-Fifteen / Officer Brian Cruise
The white officer who kills Khalil. One-Fifteen thus acts as the overarching antagonist of the book—though he doesn’t appear in person after Khalil’s death—and comes to represent police brutality, systemic racism, and corruption in… read analysis of One-Fifteen / Officer Brian Cruise
Mr. Lewis is an older gentleman who owns the barbershop next to Maverick’s store and is a frequent source of annoyance for the latter. Mr. Lewis snitches on King on live television and is… read analysis of Mr. Lewis
The father of Officer Brian Cruise, who gives a television interview defending his son, justifying Khalil’s shooting by saying his son feared for his life.
Mrs. Rosalie is Khalil’s grandmother. She also took in Lisa when she got pregnant in high school with Starr. She is going through chemotherapy and had recently lost her job at the time of Khalil’s death.
Brenda is Khalil’s mother. Her struggles with addiction make her a frequent disappointment to and source of sadness for her son. Later in the story Starr learns that Brenda stole money from King, and that Khalil only began selling drugs to pay back his mother’s debt.
Starr and Khalil’s childhood friend who, at age ten, was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of Starr.
Khalil’s aunt, who lives in New York City and was friends with Lisa as a child.
A girl on the Williamson basketball team with Starr. Starr admires that Jess does not attend the protest at Williamson and refuses to use Khalil’s death to get out of class.
The pastor who leads the funeral service for Khalil.
A lawyer with Just Us for Justice who agrees to represent Starr pro bono and encourages Starr’s activism throughout the story.
Seven and Kenya’s little sister.
Hailey’s older brother and a student at Williamson who starts a protest for Khalil—mostly just in order to get out of class.
The District Attorney in Khalil’s case, described as a middle-aged white woman.
A black police officer who forces Maverick to the ground.
The journalist who interviews Starr for a network television special.
Lisa’s mother, a former alcoholic who lives with Carlos and Pam.
Carlos’s wife, a surgeon.
DeVante’s brother who is shot and killed at Big D’s party.
Owns a soul food establishment frequented by Starr and Maverick.
Mr. Reuben’s nephew.
A regular at Maverick’s store.
A student at Williamson who takes Hailey to prom.
A girl on the Williamson basketball team with Starr.
Seven’s girlfriend and another black student at Williamson.
Maya’s boyfriend and the only other black student in Starr’s grade at Williamson.
A Latina officer who interviews Starr after the shooting.
A white officer who interviews Starr after the shooting.
Carlos’s daughter and Starr’s young cousin.
A King Lord and friend of Maverick who watches over the Carters the night before Starr testifies in front of the grand jury.
Khalil’s nine-year-old brother.
A friend of Kenya’s at Big D’s party.
A friend of Kenya’s at Big D’s party.
A Garden Heights teen who dances with DeVante at Big D’s party.
A man who lives in Garden Heights.
He never appears in person in the narrative, but his annual party in Garden Heights is the catalyst for the novel’s action.