Hate List, by Jennifer Brown
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things they hated. The list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.Mini-Review:
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 "Hate List" for a while, but when I finally got a hold of a copy, I was a little nervous to read it, because I wasn't sure how it could adequately deal with such a sensitive subject as a school shooting. But Brown handles it perfectly: she does an amazing job at balancing how much (if at all) Valerie and those around her see Valerie as guilty for the shooting, and how much she is a victim. Brown also does an incredible job at portraying Nick, and how he did this unspeakably terrible thing, but that the shooting wasn't all he was--that he was funny and kind, but his rage overcame those good qualities. And oh my goodness, Jessica is a ridiculously good friend; I don't know how many people would put up with the crap Valerie gives her, but Jessica does, and I love her for it. The only issue I had with the book is that Valerie was supposedly really angsty and angry and bitter before the shooting, but the narrator Valerie seems . . . normal; and I'm not sure if that's supposed to be because Valerie outgrew those qualities after the shooting, or if they just didn't come through as they were intended in the writing.
Stupid of me to think I could fit in here, even after all this time. Even with Jessica on my side. See what's real, that's what Dr. Hieler wanted me to do. See what's really there. Well, I could see what was really there now and none of it was good. It was all the same as it was before. Only before I would have written down their names on the Hate List and run to Nick for comfort. Now I was a different person and I had no idea what to do, other than run away.