Monday, 16 November 2009

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

From Amazon: Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend opened fire on their school cafeteria, killing five students and one teacher before turning the gun on himself. Valerie, who was shot trying to stop him, is initially implicated in the shootings because of the hate list she helped create. The hate list her boyfriend used to pick his targets. As Valerie integrates back into school, more of an outsider than she ever thought she was before, she is forced to confront her feelings of guilt and loneliness. Exploring the gray area between hero and villain, she navigates the rocky relationships with her family, her former friends, with the memory of the boyfriend she still loves, and with the girl whose life she saved five months ago. As she moves toward graduation and the year anniversary of the shooting, Valerie must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it all in order to make amends and move on with her life.

I found this a very powerful read. It was such a raw and honest account that it was heartbreaking to read at times. I connected to Val immediately and found it interesting to have the story told from her point of view – having her be the girlfriend of the shooter gave the story a unique feel. I found it very insightful watching her grapple with her feelings towards the Nick she remembered and the reality of what he had done.

Jennifer Brown has a lovely writing style – it’s very accessible and I found myself flying through the book. She uses flashbacks and newspaper articles to bring the past to light and this works superbly – by the time you get to the shooting you really feel for all the characters which makes it even more devastating. I liked that you got to see Nick from Val’s point of view to show that a real person was behind the shooting - even if that makes it even more horrifying and heartbreaking.

I found Val’s journey to be a rollercoaster ride of emotion – the book is very character driven and focuses on Val’s need to overcome/accept what has happened and forgive her role in it so she can move on with her life. She is a brilliantly crafted character – a kind of warts and all approach. I found this extended to the other characters as well – I found their reactions to be realistic – the hate, anger, fear, the need to blame or hold someone accountable and ultimately forgiveness. I think it was her father’s reaction that was the most devastating. It felt realistic though, even if I did spend most of the book wishing he’d be different.

This is definitely a book that will stay with me. Val felt very real to me and I’d love to see how she’s getting on in the future.


6 comments:

StephTheBookworm said...

This looks so good. It reminds me a little of "We Need to Talk About Kevin," which was also really good. I am definitely adding this to my TBR list.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

This sounds amazing. I definitely need to read it. Fantastic review, Sammee!

Chicklish said...

Fantastic review! It sounds like a haunting and great read.

Becky said...

Hate List is definitely on my wish list. Loved your review, this books sounds incredible!

Bookalicious said...

Great review! Everytime I read another glowing review of this book, I just get the urge to read it! I bought it a while ago and I have really high hopes for it, now all I need is the time to read it! But aah, can't wait!

prophecygirl said...

Great review Sammee. This book is definitely amazing, and one I'm still thinking about!

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