Chapters 1 & 2
Starr Carter attends a Garden Heights party with her friend Kenya, with whom she shares a half-brother, Seven. Starr runs into Khalil, and when gunshots sound out, Khalil and Starr run to Khalil’s car. Starr remembers the lecture her father Maverick gave about how to act around police officers, a lesson she notices that Khalil never received as he argues with an officer, One-Fifteen. One-Fifteen tells Khalil not to move, then shoots him when Khalil opens the car door.
Chapters 3 & 4
Next day, Starr and Maverick open the family store where various neighbors discuss their opinions regarding Khalil’s death. Maverick has a confrontation with King, the leader of the King Lords gang. Starr overhears her parents arguing with Uncle Carlos, a police officer, who wants Starr to testify to the police about the shooting. Starr, Maverick, and Lisa (Starr’s mother) learn from Ms. Rosalie that Khalil had been selling drugs, a fact that worries Starr because Khalil’s dealing will overshadow every report of his death.
Chapters 5 & 6
Starr returns to Williamson Prep, the majority-white school she attends, and meets up with her friends Hailey and Maya. Starr then meets up with her white boyfriend, Chris, and after school, Seven takes Starr and Sekani, their younger brother, to the clinic where Lisa works, where they encounter Brenda, Khalil’s mother. Starr and Lisa go to the police station, where Starr tells detectives Gomez and Wilkes about Khalil’s murder. She realizes that Gomez wants to twist the story to make it about Khalil’s drug dealing.
Chapters 7 & 8
After Hailey makes a comment toward Starr, Starr accuses her of racism, which angers Hailey, and when Maya asks Starr if she knew Khalil, Starr denies it. At Khalil’s funeral, Ms. Ofrah informs the congregation of a peaceful march in protest of Khalil’s wrongful death. Ms. Ofrah offers his services as a lawyer to Starr, but Starr wonders if she will ever be ready to speak up.
Reports say the police will not arrest One-Fifteen, subsequently leading Starr to blame herself for their inaction and the ensuing riots. Seven takes Starr to Rose Park, where one of the Garden Disciples attempts to rob them, until DeVante, one of the King Lords, intervenes. At Uncle Carlos’s house, Chris comes over and tries to understand Starr’s feelings, however, Starr insists that because Chris is white and rich, he cannot.
Starr and Maverick talk about Tupac’s album Thug Life and what they think it means, Maverick explaining how several factors create a system stacked against Black communities. Starr realizes that speaking out is the only way to change things. At the store, Maverick tells DeVante how he was able to escape gang life and how King is indebted to him, and Maverick offers Devante a job. Lisa and Maverick argue over whether they should leave Garden Heights.
Starr becomes furious with her classmates when they plan to protest Khalil’s death only as an excuse to skip school. While at the store, Starr and Sekani watch Mr. Lewis talking to reporters, and afterward Maverick confronts him. The police overhear their argument and pin Maverick to the ground.
Chapters 12 & 13
Starr starts a blog, The Khalil I Know, that garners many likes and reblogs, and after Lisa tells her that the District Attorney would like to question Starr about Khalil’s death, Starr decides she is ready to talk. Maverick brings the family and DeVante to Uncle Carlos’s house, where Chris arrives. After Starr tells Maverick that they are dating, he is outraged.
Chapters 14 & 15
While watching One-Fifteen’s father’s interview on television with Maya and Hailey, Starr disagrees with his version of events and gets into a confrontation with Hailey. When Starr returns to Uncle Carlos’s house, he admits to punching One-Fifteen and says that anyone who would shoot someone for opening a car door shouldn’t be a cop. Later, King asks where DeVante is and threatens Starr over her testimony.
Chapters 16 & 17
Starr has her television interview, where she discusses how Khalil was not a bad person, the events that occurred the night that One-Fifteen shot Khalil, as well as what she would say to One-Fifteen if he was there. Starr attends prom with Chris, and he expresses his hurt that she’s hidden part of her life from him.
Chapters 18 & 19
Lisa and Maverick bring Starr, Seven, and Sekani to a house in a new neighborhood they will soon move into. Back in Garden Heights, gunshots sound, and after Lisa calls Uncle Carlos, he insists it was the King Lords, whereas Maverick suggests it may have been the police. On the day that Starr is scheduled to testify for Khalil, she recalls going to the courthouse for Maverick’s sentencing when she was young.
Chapters 20 & 21
Starr and Maya finally confront Hailey, culminating in Starr punching Hailey after Hailey says Khalil deserved to die. During a barbeque held at Uncle Carlos’s house, Starr realizes that her worlds can coexist.
Chapters 22 & 23
After Starr and Chris share an intimate moment, Seven calls Starr to ask if she has seen DeVante. They find DeVante bleeding and beat-up by King. Later, it’s announced that the grand jury will not indict One-Fifteen. At a protest, police show up in riot gear and violence escalates.
Chapters 24 & 25
Ms. Ofrah leads Starr to the front of the protest, where Starr introduces herself and calls One-Fifteen a criminal, while also stating that Khalil’s life is more important than how he died. At the store, King throws a Molotov cocktail and fire spreads. The people cheer as the police arrest King, and when Uncle Carlos arrives, he promises to protect DeVante if he becomes a witness.
Starr decides to acknowledge the painful truth of the violence that took place, and admits she used to be ashamed of Garden Heights but is not anymore. Starr vows to not give up fighting for a better ending, believing that change will come.