It’s totally awesome book Tuesday! And this week I introduce you to the novel “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown.
Here’s the synopsis on the back cover:
“Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Val was as shocked as everyone else–but, despite her own serious injury, she’s implicated in the crime because of the list. The list she and Nick made of people they hated. The list Nick 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, her 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.”
So, let me break it down a little more for you.
This book is structured in an interesting way, where some chapters it focuses on the present, and some it focuses on the past as to how certain people got on Val and Nick’s hate list. And don’t worry, you can tell when it goes to the past, so you won’t be confused. We learn very quickly who’s on the list based on a news report, and we come to find why they were put on the list through Val’s eyes.
Nick and Val aren’t bad people, they are simply those misunderstood high school kids that the “popular” kids would constantly pick on. Through the novel we come to see Nick’s true personality and how pure of heart he is, although the little signs were there of him really wanting revenge for all the people that hurt him.
So one day Nick finally gets the guts to show up in the cafeteria and shoot down the kids on their list. Some people he gets, some he disables, and some he’s lucky to miss; Val ends up saving one girl’s life. And by saving this girl’s life, she ends up getting shot by Nick on accident. Seeing the damage he’s doing from accidently shooting his girlfriend, we get to see the pain in his eyes right before he holds the gun to his own head and pulls the trigger.
Val struggles to go back to school, although she’s constantly scorned and blamed for the hate list that she helped create. The school wishes she was shot down with her boyfriend, and they aren’t afraid to hide it.
This isn’t just a story about a school shooting, it’s about the struggles of trying to survive after the event. It’s a story that tugs on the heart, to a point where we get to feel pity for the shooter himself just for being misunderstood.
This kind of novel opens our eyes to the kind of darkness that exists in our world today. Although not many go through with shooting the school (thank God), unfortunately some kids still think about having their revenge on the people that make their life more complicated.
After reading this novel I realized how many complications people can really have, and how even those people we “hate” in high school based on trend have deep problems too that are hard to deal with. What gives us the right to pick on those that we don’t understand? Why is it so hard to just smile at everyone’s direction, no matter how different they may seem from us? Everyone hurts and everyone cuts loose sometimes, it’s up to us as a society to sit them down and try to understand them, and ultimately help them become sane once again.
If you want to read about something heavy, then I highly suggest this book. And remember, always smile at anyone you pass, that smile just may save their life.
Keep on reading!