What if you wished someone would die and then it happened?
What if the killer was someone you loved?
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.
Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
My Rating: 5+/5
Have you ever read a book, and became so engrossed in it that you couldn't put it down? The characters could be playing out their roles in the livingroom in front of you, and you can't seem to look away. That was me, with this book. This book starts out with Valerie heading back to school after having been an unintentional party to a high school shooting. She is labelled either a hero, or just as guilty as her boyfriend (now deceased). Her friends don't want anything to do with her. Her family doesn't know what to do with her. She just wants to keep to herself.
She didn't mean to do it. One day, she just started writing down a list of things and people that she hated. Most of the people on this list had bullied her in some form. Nick catches her writing this list one day, and later on after class he mentions casually to her to add something to the list. The Hate List was born.
I don't condone what she did, but I can see where she's coming from. I too, had been bullied (though I was never bullied in high school; my living hell was grade school). I can sympathize somewhat with Nick, though he couldn't justify doing something that horrendous.
This book brings to light the horrifying things that go on in schools across the globe. The bullying, and abuse people take at school, or in class. It takes it one step further, and realizes every parents worst nightmare. Their children could very well die before them, in a senseless act of depravity.
This book was executed brilliantly. The characters were human, flawed, and emotionally at odds with themselves and each other. The plot was imaginative. The true brilliance to this story, is that it happens every day around us. Little by little, someone is slowly becoming more desperate. Until, finally, they snap. But we rarely hear of what happens afterwards. How does a community cope with the staggering loss of their children, students or staff? With that in mind, this book paints a haunting picture of a reality that is all too familiar these days.
Her characters were beautifully done. Valerie's character is challenged throughout this book, but she shows grit and determination that will help her resolve the past. There is no way she can make up for what happened, but she can ask for forgiveness, and stand up and atone for any wrongdoing on her part. She just needs to find her true self first.
This book was incredibly heartfelt, poignant, and mesmerizing. It parallels the fears we all have today in schools, and it shines a light on one topic most of all. Bullying. It happens, everywhere. Unfortunately not much is done about it, but we can stop the effects it has on others. We can pledge not to bully. To stand up for those weaker than us. To do what is right by them.
All in all, this book was phenomenally amazing. I had tears in my eyes as I finished the book. It was moving, captivating, and refreshingly honest. This book has slid into my "Top 10 of 2010" list with ease. I hope you all have enjoyed it, or will enjoy it, as much as I have.