Friday, June 10, 2011

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Grade: 83% or B-

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.

I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, but didn't get the chance until it was the chosen one for that month's book club. As a club we had mixed feelings that only got a little clearer after we talked it out.

The plot was interesting in a simple way. I go to high school, and this is something that you hear about happening. This is the reason that certain rules are in place and are reinforced so powerfully. It is a serious and touchy matter and it was mind opening to read a book willing to talk about it.

Once again this is a book in which we get to know a very important character without ever getting to actually meet them. In this novel it is Nick. He was a character I thought about a lot. He seemed like a very lovable person that I would love to see in any other kind of novel. I could understand how Valerie didn't think he was capable of such a thing.

My biggest problem with this book was how people blamed Valerie. I think when the police decided she didn't have anything to do with the murders, her classmates should have followed suit. Even the Hate List that they made wasn't enough for me to target her. Valerie and Nick were taunted day after day, did these people think that they LIKED them? I don't think being bullied justifies killing people, just that these people weren't as innocent and that they and didn't provoke some sort of hatred.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. It made me take a critical look at the people around me and want to put a stop to some not so nice behavior going on. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about school shootings or just want an eye opening read.

Book received free from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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