Title: Hate List (Amazon)
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Release Date: 2009
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. (Goodreads)
Kim’s Take – I really, really liked this book. It runs along the lines of the book We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was excellent.
What started out as a joke turns into a tragedy, putting Valerie into a very tough situation. Valerie and her boyfriend, Nick, begin a “Hate List”, writing down everything and everyone they hate. The list is extensive because they tend to be more on the gothic side and are bullied on almost a daily basis. Valerie is stuck with the nickname “Sister Death” by her bullies. Unfortunately, without Valerie even realizing it, Nick has become much more serious about the list. Tragedy erupts when Nick opens fire at the commons of their high school killing several students, including a beloved teacher trying to protect students. Valerie is taken by surprise and is shot in the leg by Nick when she throws herself in front of one of her most hated bullies. Nick then kills himself.
The story becomes more tragic for Valerie when she is accused of helping Nick after police find her hate list and emails sent between Valerie and Nick. Even after being cleared of participation and being hailed as a hero by her high school in an attempt to stop the situation, Valerie is mentally tortured by the thoughts of missing the mounting anger of Nick and her conflicted feelings for Nick who she felt was the only person who understood her.
After spending the summer recuperating, refusing to see or speak with her only friend, and dealing with a father she feels now hates her, September comes and she returns to high school. She is shunned by the few friends she had left and has to deal with continued bullying and the feelings of fear and hurt from traumatized classmates.
I felt that the result of such a terrible tragedy became a second chance at a better life for Valerie. Things begin to happen which she never dreamed of. I really liked Valerie’s character and the author did a great job describing the torment Valerie was going through before, during, and after the tragedy.
I think it’s a great book in helping to understand that just because someone does not dress like you, is unpopular, and not part of your group of friends, they are a person like you and going through the same situations and growing pains as anyone else. Unfortunately for some, these things are made even harder for them to deal with when being constantly bullied and made to feel like less than nothing. They are more like you than you may think.
It is a story of how one teen could not take it any longer and felt this was his only option, leaving his girlfriend behind to deal with the aftermath.
It was an excellent read and I didn’t want to put it down!
Kim’s Rating – 5/5