Book: Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 2009
Pages: 405 pages
Where I got it: got an e-book copy for my Nook
Buy It: Amazon
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
My thoughts: I've been on a really great streak of captivating young adult novels lately. Hate List was another book that I could not put down. Brown tells Valerie's story by alternating between present and past which had me hooked from the beginning. The subject matter is tough, especially after all of the issues with bullying that have come to light in the last couple of years but the story will really leave you stunned. Valerie kept a notebook full of things she hated, including people, places and inanimate objects. When her boyfriend, Nick, found out about the list and began adding things to it, she thought nothing of it. Soon Nick started mentioning suicide and killing people in great detail until one day he finally carried out the plan he seemed to have hinted at for months before, killing several classmates and a teacher before turning the gun on himself.
Thinking about the way Valerie must have felt about being an indirect cause of the shooting makes the story all the more interesting. She had pretty natural thoughts for a teenager, like wishing she could get revenge on the people who make her life hell at school. I know I have said things in the heat of the moment that I never truly meant, but Val's boyfriend took the hate list that they started literally. Despite the fact that so many people treated her like a criminal and her role in the shooting wasn't completely determined, I really liked Val's character. I felt so bad for her and how she really had no one on her side other than her therapist. In addition to dealing with the ramifications of the shooting, Val also had to deal with her crumbling family and the loss of the guy she loved. It was amazing to me that she even went back to the same school at all.
The ending of Hate List was fantastic. Valerie went through so much during her senior year and this book made me feel like I had experienced it all with her. When she is finally able to graduate and present the project she was working on, it was very touching. She grew as person and was able to get back into a good place with the important people in her life. It was nice to see a happy resolution to such a terrible situation. I'd recommend anyone read this book!
My rating: 4 stars