Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown (website)(Twitter)
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: library loan
Rating: 5 out of 5
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.
Not going to lie, this one read for me as a 3 out of 5 until the ending and then bam...the whole thing came together and I loved it. As much as you can "love" a book about a teenage boy killing classmates. Nick and Valerie's Hate List is something that probably too many people compile - if only in their heads - and thankfully few act on it. That Nick started killing the students on the list makes this one very much a story pulled from the headlines, unfortunately. I read this one in just one day. I was drawn into the storyline and the characters.
Valerie was such an untrustworthy narrator for so many reasons. What part did she play in the killings? She is beyond broken and the story reads with newspaper articles that told parts of the story, within her narration. Her mind is pretty scrambled and the way she sees things is probably not always accurate.
Her family is seriously screwed up - both of her parents blame her for the shootings and she's lost all of her friends. That she went back to the school for her senior year is a point of great wonderment to me. Although she is apparently innocent why go back? And better yet, how can a school open it's doors so quickly after an event like that. Nit picking aside, the story truly did come together for me in the end and I so enjoyed it because it made me think.
Bullying is real and even worse than when I was a teenager. The reasons behind his acts can't be justified but that can, in part, be explained.
I have a hard time reviewing a book like this one because of the fear of spoiling the plot but it was well written with carefully drawn, well developed characters. Whether or not the characters are even likable doesn't take away from the wonderfully written story. I hard story to read but wonderfully written just the same.