As I mentioned in a previous post, I won Jennifer Brown's Hate List from Jessica's blog and I'm glad I did.
Not many books have rendered me speechless when I've finished reading them, but this one did. I feel weird saying this was a good book, but it was in that it made you think and feel. Reading this made me think of past school shootings; especially Columbine and Virginia Tech and it gave you a peek into what the people in these, and other, communities must have felt when this happened to them.
Valerie and Nick are considered losers in school and when Valerie shares her Hate List with Nick, they bond and start dating. The Hate List is comprised of people (family, teachers, classmates, celebrities, etc) and things they hate. One day towards the end of their Junior year, everything changes. Nick comes to school and starts shooting those people on the Hate List. When Valerie tries to stop Nick, she's shot right before he turns the gun on himself.
Valerie then must deal with the aftermath and come to terms about her role in the shooting. Valerie must also deal with all the ripple effects the shooting caused. Her parents are arguing more, her dad seems to hate her, her mom is constantly worried about the possibility of her committing suicide, she's been suspected as Nick's accomplice, she's about to return to a school where most everyone hates her (including her friends), and she must face the everyday reminder of what happened.
Everything in Valerie's world has turned upside down and the only people who seem to be on her side are her psychologist and Jessica, a girl who was listed on the Hate List.
If she had seen that Nick was serious instead of joking about killing, would she have been able to stop it? Is she strong enough to get through her Senior year when everyone blames her for what happened? Have the students at Garvin High really changed?
I cried towards the end of this book. Not just because of the subject matter and all the bad that had happened, but because when Valerie and Jessica are talking to all the victims and/or their families, there was a sense of relief and hope for Valerie. After everything that had happened, she was able to see who she really was. I think part of the reason she had so much guilt was because before the shooting, she defined herself by needing and loving Nick. Afterwards, she was able to see that it wasn't her and that she played up the hate because of who Nick was.
If you get a chance to read this book, do so. It's a serious subject matter but it does make you think about what could happen if you treat the wrong person the wrong way and how when you're close to someone, you may not see what's really there.