Sunday, October 18, 2009

Book Review: Hate List

Hate List
Jennifer Brown

This is from the inside cover

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things they hated. The list her boyfriend 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 don't know how to start this review. My emotions after reading this novel are in disarray. I think I am going to start off with pondering three words to describe the novel and see what avenues my brain takes.

1. Agonizing - Not in terms of reading as this novel is a MUST READ. Agonizing in terms of the raw emotions I felt for the characters, especially Valerie. Can you image being in love with someone who also killed your fellow peers. Being in love with someone that you had no idea was going to take the venting process of life to the extreme? Agonizing in terms of waking up from the terrible day and have to face everyone who thinks you are just as guilty and wishing you were dead also? These emotions made my insides feel like they were going to collapse.

2. Pulchritudinous(yes I did use a thesaurus) - This word means beautiful. I chose this because it is an obscure word for a simple idea. This book is the same way. The events are far from beautiful, but the story and the way the author crafted her storyline is beautiful. I honestly felt like I was right there. I felt like I was part of the high school and was affected. It was beautiful in the way that it felt so real. How was Jennifer Brown able to get inside the heads of every character to make this story so genuine?

3. Battle - Life is a constant battle with everything that is being thrown are way. It felt good to read about a character(and female in addition) who was strong enough to not back down. It felt good to read about a character that was far from perfect, but was not heavily abusing drugs and sex in every chapter to make the book non-suggestible to middle school students. It felt to relate to someone(not in the shooting aspect) who has been placed in a bad situation and has to learn to suck it up and deal with life.

READ THIS BOOK! Tell me your thoughts. Post me your questions. Let us create a discussion about the book. As a forewarning to my students and parents of students, this book does deal with a school shooting in the high school. There are some intense scenes. I just want to clear the air so you are not upset with me about the book. I would suggest age 13 and above if you are looking for an age range

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