Title: Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Release: 4th November 2010
Synopsis: 5 months ago Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend opened fire on their school cafeteria, killing five students and one teacher before turning the gun on himself. Valerie, who was shot trying to stop him, is initially implicated in the shootings because of the hate list she helped create. The hate list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.
As Valerie integrates back into school, more of an outsider than she ever thought she was before, she is forced to confront her feelings of guilt and loneliness. Exploring the gray area between hero and villain, she navigates the rocky relationships with her family, her former friends, with the memory of the boyfriend she still loves, and with the girl whose life she saved five months ago. As she moves toward graduation and the year anniversary of the shooting, Valerie must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it all in order to make amends and move on with her life.
A heart wrenching and emotionally underrated book that will leave you reaching for the tissues, this is one of the most uniquely brilliant books I’ve read.
This book completely blew me away. I picked it up on a whim from the bookshop, and I am amazed even now about how brilliant it was. It was thought provoking, emotional and had such realistic characters that I could feel all the emotions.
Dealing with such a tough topic, and one that unfortunately is more common in the world than we’d like, this book opened every wound that can be caused by such a mass horror. I loved though, how it wasn’t focused on the shooting, but instead focused on how Val coped with what happened, and not only the loss of her classmates, but the coming to terms with what her boyfriend did, and how she became involved.
It was so brilliant how we got to see how she coped with all these emotions, from people calling her a murderer, to her dealing without Nick and her mixed feelings over him, and also the relationship with her old friends. Her relationship with her parents was also a particularly stand out moment for me, as it hurt me in the best way. It was so beautifully written that every moment between them felt as if it was a moment between me and my parents, so hit me hard. The situations she goes through, and of feeling so alone really brought me to tears.
The use of split timelines was also well used, as it allowed us to see what Nick and Val were like before the shootings, so let us get a backstory as to why Val felt like she did, and explained the meaning behind the list. Getting such a complete perspective of a story can sometimes be missing in YA novels, so I loved how it was so inclusive in this book.
The use of newspapers and obituaries also helped to gain some insight into the victims and helped sympathise with them, almost as if the loss was real and you were inside the book.
This book was a beautifully written story of hatred, loss and shows how one small situation or joke can turn into something much bigger. It was incredibly;y thought provoking and was so powerful. I am in awe of this book, and I can’t recommend it enough.
You can buy Hate List on Amazon UK here!