Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publication: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fiction, Teen
SYNOPSIS: (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.
Jennifer Brown’s Hate List buckles you into an emotional rollercoaster ride and never lets you off. From page one, Valerie’s pain is undeniable. Tired of listening to her parents arguing and fighting off the school bullies, Valerie lets off her frustration the only way she knows how: she creates a Hate List. Everything from Christy Bruter–who makes Valerie’s life a living hell–to Ginny Baker’s hair makes the cut. The only one that seems to understand is Valerie’s boyfriend, Nick. But he takes it too far and several people wind up dead in a shocking school shooting. Valerie is left to deal with the aftermath: the accusations, the mistrust, the inability to escape her new reality. Doesn’t anyone see she’s hurting too?
Redemption comes from the most surprising places, and Valerie begins to find hers among those she once hated. Hate List brings the realities of teenage angst to the forefront. While the shooting is the catalyst for the story, it takes a back seat to the characters themselves. Jennifer Brown masterfully intertwines the characters’ stories without detracting from Valerie herself. Despite all that has happened, you find yourself rooting for Valerie. You even understand Nick, and how everyone has a breaking point. I wanted to hate him, but I found that I understood far too well the affect bullying and abuse can have on a person. I just wish he’d found a different way to handle his frustrations.
Hate List and This Is Where It Ends (by Marieke Nijkamp) both tell gut-wrenching and compelling stories of teenage pain and the aftermath of one horrible decision. While I loved both stories, I didn’t have as an intense emotional reaction with Hate List as I did with This Is Where It Ends. Maybe it’s because I found Valerie’s parents to be so absolutely self-absorbed and callous. I didn’t care for either character at all. Valerie’s younger brother Frankie was the perfect antidote to Valerie’s moroseness. I recommend both books (please see my review of This Is Where It Ends). I give 4 out of 5 stars to Hate List. This is one worth the time.
Pick up your own copy of “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also scope out your local bookstores for a copy. Make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave your feedback for the author when you finish reading it. You can also check out author Jennifer Brown on her website HERE to see all her upcoming and previous pieces of work. Lots of good books to read!