Friday, January 21, 2011

Hate List, by Jennifer Brown

My one word adjective for Hate List is “gut-wrenching.” (OK. That might be two words.) Valerie, our narrator, has been through and is going through an ordeal so difficult, that the reader truly cannot imagine.  Jennifer Brown, however, puts you right in her shoes, and the picture she paints while emotional, is believable.

Valerie is the girlfriend of Nick, who shot and injured or killed many students at Garvin High.  This story has a unique perspective, because it is told by Valerie.  She was shot, herself, but also feels partly responsible for Nick’s actions (even though she had no idea he was thinking this way) because of the “hate list” that she and Nick had created, listing all people and things they hated. Her guilt isn’t relieved by the fact that many people involved also hold her responsible.

It is such a struggle for Valerie to figure out how she should feel.  She tries to go back to school, but of course everything is different. Her parents don’t trust her, and really can’t forgive her.  The one bright spot is her excellent psychiatrist, who is the only person who seems to help Valerie.

Valerie’s dad made me so mad I almost threw the book across the room.  He had no relationship with Valerie, and had no idea what was going on in her head, and really didn’t want to know.  He pretty much wanted to put her in a mental hospital.

The principal, Mr. Angerson, was clueless. The only important thing to him was to give the impression that things at Garvin were all better—in fact, much better than prior to the incident.  Yea, right.  I was extremely frustrated with him, too.

My emotions ran the gamut while reading this--frustration, sadness, hate, and sympathy, to name a few.  I work in a high school every day.  Talk about your worst nightmare.  I empathized with all involved—even with Nick.  He was terribly tormented by his peers.  I like to think that we do a good job preventing bullying—but you can’t watch every kid every minute. Our grade schools are doing an excellent job of preventing this at an early age (I hope.) As a librarian, I feel that I get a lot of those “misfits” as regulars. I hope they feel safe and secure in the library. But I digress…

It’s a good story; one that needs to be told.  And, in this case, it’s told in a sensitive, realistic manner that evokes such deep emotion that I would recommend this to anyone. It’s very readable and has appeal for teens and adults alike.  I will be sure to recommend this to my students and faculty.

Published by Little, Brown, 2009
Checked out from my library
405 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 5/5


  1. I really liked that book, also :)

  2. Thanks Anette for a great review! I just hopped across to Amazon and ordered it. Sounds amazing :)

  3. I really want to read this book, your review was fantastic!

  4. I loved this book, it had me in tears by the end. Your review describes it perfectly.

  5. I loved this book too! Great review:)


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