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.
This is not an easy book to write about. I keep typing things and deleting them because I just have no idea what the hell I am supposed to say.
Basically, this was an amazing book, and I am very glad that I read it. But it was not an easy book to read. I mean, that much is obvious from the summary. This book is not at all light and fluffy. It's dark and heavy and serious. It's a real eye-opener.
The thing about Hate List is that it feels very realistic. Unfortunately, things like school shootings are part of people's lives nowadays. What Jennifer Brown did in this novel was tell the story of a girl named Valerie who was part hero, part villain, and part victim. The lines between these separate types of people get blurred, and even Valerie has a hard time figuring out which one she really is. The tragedy of a school shooting affects so many people for so many reasons, in so many different ways.
But what if your boyfriend was the shooter? What if you loved him? What if you had no idea what he was planning? What if, somehow, you indirectly helped him plan it? What if you didn't mean for anyone to die? What if you didn't know?
These are all questions that Valerie struggles with everyday. She goes back to school, surrounded by classmates who blame her, and she is ostracized. She literally has no one.
This book explores the effects of a school shooting on different people. The lives of students and teachers and friends and parents and siblings are all changed drastically. If you are a high schooler, or even if you know a high schooler, I strongly recommend this book. While it was very difficult to read at times, it definitely opened my eyes to the things around me.