Hate List by Jennifer Brown
#4 of 25 for 2010 YA Challenge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Valerie Leftman struggles to re-enter school and society after her boyfriend, Nick, opens fire at school, injuring and killing several students and teachers. Nick is just trying to blow away people that are on the Hate List that he and Valerie created. Problem is, Valerie didn't realize that Nick ever meant to truly do anything about it, just thought it was a list used to vent frustation. Now she has to figure out how to interact with people who believe that she was just as guilty as Nick though she never fired a shot. Along the way, she finds that she has allies she never realized as she makes her way back to normalcy and figuring out who she really is.
This plot has been done before and even reminded me of Speak and Just Listen with the main character who has been through severe trauma that other people don't understand and struggles to find the words to describe what they are feeling and figuring out how to live again. But I still liked it. I liked the characters. I liked Val's relationship with her little brother who likes to gel his hair too much and enjoys the ladies. Dr. Heiler is someone I would want in my circle if I needed help and Bea is eccentric and filled with wisdom and love that carries Val through the tough times.
I like how the author dealt with the hypocrisy of Garvin High. The cheerleaders and jocks who would punch Nick when nobody was looking or push him or humiliate him are supposedly the "'perfect kids' who nobody would believe were just as bad as the 'bad kids.'" Then after the shooting, newspaper reporter, Angela Dash writes of the charity and kindness present at Garvin after the shooting but when Val arrives at the new school year, things are just as ugly as they ever were. The book feels so real - this is what high school is.
I liked seeing Valerie's journey back to life. It was believable and the ending was different from what I would have expected but seemed just right. Really this is more like 4.5 stars for me.
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