by Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Source: Book Club
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Val was shocked as everyone else - but, despite her own serious injury, she's implicated in the crime because of the list. The list she and Nick made of people they hated. The list Nick used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seculsion, 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, her 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.
Valerie may not have instigated the shooting that happened at her highschool, but to her it sure feels like she did. Teachers don't know whether to think of her as a hero or a criminal. Most students can't even look her in the face. And her father seems to want to cut her out of his life entirely. Worst of all, Valerie herself feels at least partially responsible for the killings. Hadn't she been the one to start the Hate List? Shouldn't she have seen this coming and stopped it?
Hate List is a novel that explores a lot of deep themes and asks a lot of great questions. What do you do when someone you love dies under horrible circumstances? How do you cope when you feel like a killer yourself? And most importantly, how do you move past the pain, and eventually start to heal?
Valerie was an interesting protagonist. I found it a bit hard to connect with her, partially because she herself was so disconnected from her world, but I did feel sympathy towards her. Every once in awhile I wanted to tell her to snap out of her misery and live her life to the fullest, but overall I think her characterization was spot on for someone in her situation. Not only that but the growth of her character was huge, especially towards the end of the novel.
Hate List is one of those books that I think every teenager should read especially nowadays when bullying is such a huge issue. Valerie didn't even question her hate list. It was just a list right? No one was really gonna take it seriously, right? But that's just not true. Actions have consequences. Even if we can't see it right away they always do. Hate List has taught me to think twice before I say/write/do something that could be potentially hurtful. That's what made Hate List have such an impact on me. It was a story with a message. It taught me something. And that's something I'm always looking for in a good book.
I give Hate List 4 out of 5 cupcakes!
Big props to Jennifer Brown for writing a book about such an important and poignant issues! I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.