Hate List, by Jennifer Brown – Book Review

Hate List, by Jennifer Brown

Hate List, by Jennifer BrownValerie spends the summer hiding out from her friends and anyone else who knows her after her boyfriend Nick puts an effective end to the school year with a violent and deadly rampage, killing students and teachers from their shared “hate list” as well as innocent bystanders before ending his own life.  Just as in the dark about Nick’ actions as every one else, Valerie didn’t have any idea that Nick was planning to execute such an event and though she is injured saving another student on the list she is shunned by her community and left to bear the brunt of Nick’s crime entirely on her own.

With the help of her beloved therapist, Valerie is able to find the strength to return to the same high school where the tragedy occurred, and where her boyfriend has caused so much damage on “their” behalf.  The deal that she and her therapist have struck is that she only has to make it through the first term, if it’s too hard, she can go away to school somewhere else after that.  While the first few days and weeks are far from promising, Valerie finds reserves of strength she never imagined and allies in unlikely places.

Even coming in the wake of reading the awesomely well-written and researched Columbine, by Dave Cullen, I was still stunned by Hate List. The beautifully nuanced portrayal of this young teenage girl- whom Jennifer Brown has so lovingly created- as she is trying to come to terms with so many gigantic issues like survivor’s guilt, anger, responsibility and loss, with little to no support from her family and friends, was unbelievably touching.

Valerie’s boyfriend, Nick, has done just about the most awful thing in the world, but I loved that Brown rendered him through Valerie’s eyes compassionately and was able to express his humanity in both his goodness and the overwhelming pain that led him to such horrendous actions.  I also loved exploring all of the conflicting emotions which Valerie experienced as she faced not only what Nick did and the consequences it has had for her and so many others, but the fact that she loved and missed him so much.

I love me some complex characters and issues in a novel, and Valerie and this cast and story were definitely on the case.  I loved and hated, sympathized and related with just about everyone in this book, and for me that is the highest praise that I can give an author. When they have created characters that are so honest, complex and moving that I am weeping with them one minute and mad at them the next, they have created a story that I learn  and grow from, and one that will stay with me long after I have closed the pages of the book, and that is what this incredible first novel has done.  Kudos.

Highly Recommended.

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  1. You and Amy are in synch this evening…just read her review of this one as well. Not long ago, I read The Hour I First Believed, and have Columbine on my Kindle, so I am not the least bit afraid of the emotion that has to have been packed into this book. Unless I get distracted, I’m going to be getting my hands on this one soon. I can’t walk away from something with such great reviews.

  2. I read this book in one night i couldnt put it down, it was just soo good, at the end i cryed, i think every school should a student read this, if they only what their words did people maybe they wouldnt do it, because most school shootings are about the kid being bullied and teased, im 16, ill tell you im not the most of popular girl in school i have a few friends but not many but its enough to suit me, but i deal with bullying and teasing becuase how i look what i wear where im from, and its horrible. This book has got to be one the most amazing books i ever read, i have read many books almost my whole libary at school, but this would have to go on my number 1 best book ever, that one night i read it, i thought about the hate list and why they wrote it, and i understand that, because of they were treated, but i made my own list its kinda funny but its the love list, i put all the peoples names in my head that teased me and thought about what was best of them, but honestly i couldnt do it, becuase i didnt know who they were really were like val and nick did, they just saw what they did to them, they didnt see anything else. I was trying to maek this short, but theres so much to say about this book its amazing truely, if only people could see what these kids saw whats so sad about it cost a persons life them to relize it. I am truly honored to have been the first in my high school to read this book when i saw it i had to get it, this book is great, if you havent read it i think you should.

  3. you wrote this on november 17th. that’s my birthday 😀 and i want to read this book now so i’m going to check it out