Monday, July 13, 2009
The Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Release Date: September 1, 2009 from Little, Brown Young Readers
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.
I can't begin to tell you what an incredibly powerful read this was for me. Valerie's story is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. While I was reading the book, I started to realize how easily things can get out of control in the life of a teenager and how quickly something can escalate into violence. With all of the homecoming and prom memories, we tend to block out the bad stuff that happens in High School, but in reality, it can be a traumatic place for many kids.
For me, it was Junior High. I was a total basket case (hormones bah!) and I hated everyone, so I understand Valerie's Hate List and how something trivial can change your life forever.
This book just really moved me. Jennifer Brown captured the mind of a struggling teen perfectly and honestly. It was amazing to see Valerie drag herself out of the darkest time imaginable and start to put her life back together. Valerie's present struggles are interspersed with memories of the school shooting and newspaper clippings about the event, which vividly capture the terror and loss.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's an amazing story of loss and forgiveness that will capture you from the first page. It can be a tough read at times and it might make you cry a little, or more than a little, but it's definitely a journey worth taking.
Jennifer Brown is an amazing new voice in YA fiction and I'm not just saying that because she lives in my hometown. I can't wait to see what she writes next.
If you'd like a chance to read The Hate List, you can enter my July contest here.