Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Page Count: 405
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.I finished this book, with tears streaming down my face and wanting to hug the closest person to me. Unfortunately, the closest person to me was a guy sleeping on a bench with his headphones in. Either way Hate List is a heartbreaking book about acceptance, tolerance, bullying, and obviously hate. The book alternates between the day of the school shooting and what's going on with Valerie in the present, as she goes back to school. There are brief newsclippings thrown in that talk about all the students that were injured or killed during the shooting which give a great perspective and more insight into the characters.
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.
It's not going to be difficult for anyone to relate to this book, whether you've been the victim of bullying or bullied someone else, Hate List shows a lot of different perspectives. Valerie, the protagonist, is such an emotional character, I constantly found myself wanting to jump into the book to defend her and hug her and protect her. She struggles with so many different people in her life, her parents, her teachers, her former friends. No one trusts her, I don't think she truly trusts herself. From what we learn about Nick, I can tell he's really not a bad kid. It's one of those situations where if someone just stopped and took the time to ask the right questions and see the right things, a huge tragedy could have been avoided.
I love the way Brown wrote this book, the language is so emotional, I was constantly wiping my eyes while reading. Sometimes they were happy tears, sometimes they were sad tears, and sometimes things were just so emotional I didn't know how else to deal with what I was reading. There's the perfect amount of dialogue and description for me, and for those of you who know me, you know I don't like long descriptive paragraphs that go on and on. Brown did a fabulous job of giving depth to all the characters, and I felt like I was back in high school again.
Hate List is a tragic, yet uplifting story about a school trying to mend itself in the wake of a terrible shooting. I don't think I've ever read something so gripping and yet so hopeful. I definitely recommend this one to anyone and everyone. Hate List showcases what can happen when bullying goes too far, and people's emotional instability goes unnoticed. Even those who are loved and cherished may have something to hide. Lovers of contemporary fiction and books about bullying will enjoy this one until the end.