Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the li...more 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.
Details: "Hate List" by Jennifer Brown, 405 pages, an average of a whopping 5 stars on Amazon
My Thoughts: I originally picked this up because someone recommended it on a blog, and the synopsis just sounded good. Plus, there's the fact that it had great ratings on Amazon, and on Goodreads as well (4.16 stars over there). I've read books where the narrator is the shooter (like Endgame, which was an excellent book) and books where the narrator is a victim (although I can't think of any titles off the top of my head). However, I've never read a book where the narrator was someone who technically did nothing wrong but is still a little guilty, and has to face all the other victims at her school.
In general, it's hard to make me cry during books. Movies, I'll cry, no matter how many times I watch them. (I mean, I've seen A.I. five times, and I cried during each and every one.) But Hate List made me tear up a total of five times throughout those 405 pages. It was such a wrenching book. I can't even imagine what it has to be like when everyone thinks you're guilty, including yourself.
I love that Valerie is so real. At times she can border on whiny, and I did find her pre-shooting morbidness a little disconcerting, but in the end, she's just a flawed person. And yes, she was rather selfish throughout the book, but it's one of the things she comes to realize.
The relationship between Val and Nick was very well-developed. It's easy to see why, even after everything that happened, Valerie was still grieving for him. The one thing I didn't like about their relationship, though, was that I don't see how she could be so blind as to how disturbed he was. If someone I knew started talking about suicide and death all the time, and not even as a joke, alarm bells would definitely start ringing.
Other than that, this harrowing and raw book is something I really would recommend to everyone. Five smilies out of five!