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Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

by Jennifer Brown

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Val & Nick are getting bullied at school and both have difficult home lives. Val creates a notebook with a "hate list." They add to it all the names of kids who bully them, and all the others in their lives that make them miserable. Val and Nick are both angry, but Val doesn't realize how angry and disturbed Nick is, until it's too late. How is she supposed to move past this and "get on with her life" like all the adults want her to?

This book revolves around the school shooting, the events that preceded it, and the events that followed. We see how Val fell in love with Nick, how devastated she was after the shooting, and how difficult her life was after.

Warning, this book may have you tearing up at times. It is a difficult read, especially considering the world we live in today. Brown did an amazing job portraying teenagers, the way they think, and the way they feel. So many overpowering emotions. So much Hate. Such a heartbreaking situation.

As difficult as this book was, it drew me in. I listened on audio and put it on every chance I got. ( )
  Jadedog13 | Mar 11, 2017 |
Actual Rating: 4.25

Oh man, if I could describe this book in one word, it would be thought-provoking.

How many times have you wished for someone to die, or to feel the pain that you were feeling?

How many times have you been consumed with hatred or disgust or pain that you just wanted to end it - not only for yourself, but for everyone else too?

For me, too many times.

Jennifer Brown's Hate List is about the aftermath of a school shooting. Valerie, the main character, struggles with accepting herself and being accepted by those in society as the girlfriend of the perpetrator (Nick), who not only shot up their enemies, but shot himself as well.

Valerie is something of an antihero - she helped create a list of victims (although she didn't know what it would become), but on the other hand, she also stopped the shooting by jumping in front of a potential victim, resulting in Nick's immediate suicide.

So what is she? An accomplice or a savior?
It is this part of her identity that she now struggles with - she is torn between guilt and innocence, and it is this same distinction that others are too quick to make.

As Valerie's identity is blurred, her family falls apart, along with the lives of those around her.

Hate List follows Valerie (and everyone she knows) as they try to come to terms with this tragedy and move on with their lives.

The writing is so powerful.

As someone who not only holds grudges but also has a pretty volatile temper, Jennifer Brown's Hate List hit me on a very personal level, where I not only connected with Valerie, but also with Nick and Jessica and Duce and everyone in between.

This book raises a lot of questions as well, especially concerning issues of gun control, mental health, and bullying - but it focuses more on the last two, putting into the spotlight concerns such as:
What is the breaking point? How do you control the difference between feeling anger and acting on it?
And when it is bullying that drives someone to do something like this, who receives the blame?
After reading this book, I would say: a little bit of everyone.

People are so used to seeing school shooters as two-dimensional, flat criminals or evil masterminds, but what Brown does is turn Nick into someone who is so layered and multifaceted so that readers don't only as Nick the shooter, but also as Nick the victim, Nick the boyfriend, and Nick the best friend.

It is hard to imagine that they are not all cruel and heartless killers, but it's true - maybe they're just people who have been in pain for too long.

But what doesn't change is that what they do hurts everyone - this book is a powerful reminder that these things happen, and that these things are real.

School Shootings, misrepresentations in media, bullying - Brown touches up on so many issues in real life and she does it in an absolutely touching and captivating way.

Oh, but one more thing. The parents in this are absolutely a w f u l. They are distrustful, unsupportive, selfish, you name it - and although it's true that sometimes my dislike of characters is what ruins a book for me, this time it was different. It was because of the way Valerie was frustrated and hurt because of those characters that allowed me to relate to this and connect with this book on a personal level.

All in all, I'd say that this was a heartbreakingly real book about a girl's journey to accepting herself and dealing with her own guilt and anger. But thats not all this book is - it's a story about everyone's path to understanding, and most of all, the difference between controlling your pain or letting it control you. ( )
  CatherineHsu | Jun 8, 2016 |
I almost didn't read this novel by Jennifer Brown because of the subject matter: A school shooting. There are too many shootings and did I really want to read a novel about one?

The fact is that "Hate List" is about so much more than a shooting. It's about people and relationships and change and how little we strive to know others, but are willing to accept stereotypes without getting to know the real person. This isn't an easy read. Despite the fact that Valerie is the shooter's girlfriend and accepts blame for not seeing what was going on, she is also a victim. Her struggle is intense and she focuses each day on trying to see what is really there and not what is manufactured by preconception. ( )
  SaschaD | Apr 28, 2016 |
Intense. That is the best word I can think of to describe this book. The book begins with Valerie's first day back to school after the shooting. She is still recovering, awkward, and afraid of her classmates reaction to her return. The rest of the story is told through Valerie's flashbacks and newspaper reports.

This book features a topic that I find terrifying. I was in middle school when Columbine happened and lived a bit of history as I experienced changes in policies and school safety as a result. I can't say that I was or was not worried about it actually happening, but I remember it leaving people keyed up on the subject. Those feelings returned as I was reading this book.

I felt sorry for Valerie. She found herself caught up in a scheme planned and executed by the person she loved; the person she thought understood her best in the world. Valerie's journey is a slow one, but also interesting. Ultimately, this book is about learning to live again.

There were parts of the story that I feel could have been fleshed out more: Be, the lover of all things purple, and Nick's weird older friend, for example. Everyone came down on Valerie, but it seems no one asked questions about that guy.

All in all though, I think this topic was handled quite well. ( )
  jennk | Mar 11, 2016 |
The Hate List is the story of a young girl caught between love and hate. Valerie Leftman is struggling to reconcile her feelings for her family, her boyfriend, her friends, and her peers. She is an outcast-at school and at home. Valerie finds love with Nick, her high school boyfriend, but even with him she feels unsettled. She makes an off-hand decision to write names of everyone who slights her in a notebook she names The Hate List and unwittingly sets off a series of destructive events. Nick, also an outcast, takes her vent literally. One fateful day he attempts to destroy the teens who have caused their pain by going on a mass shooting spree at their high school. Valerie is shot trying to stop him and is left unable to act as Nick commits suicide. The novel is a testament to the consequences of hatefulness and the triumphs of forgiveness. ( )
  Jenxy21 | Feb 25, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer Brownprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bergboer, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
For Scott
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[From the Garvin County Sun-Tribune,
May 3, 2008, Reporter Angela Dash]

The scene in the Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the Commons, is being described as "grim" by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shoot spree that erupted Friday morning.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316041440, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:03 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

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