By Jennifer Brown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 405 pages, $16.99
When Valerie Leftman begins writing down the names of everyone and everything she hates, she has no idea that her notebook will become evidence in a school shooting incident involving her boyfriend, Nick Levil. Hate List focuses on those who may not be considered victims, but are touched nonetheless. This is the story of a girl who had no idea of what was to come, who thought her boyfriend was kidding every time he talked about suicide or death. A girl left to pick up the pieces when the warning signs unseen turned into bloody action.
The format is initially confusing since it alternates between past and present, but it is effective in showing the various aspects of Valerie’s broken life. Her selfishness is overpowering for much of the novel making her growth a bit unrealistic. There is also lack of chemistry between her new-found friends and the resolution is not quite a resolution at all. A bit like real life.
As Valerie battles solitary lunches and hateful criticism from her peers for her association to the shooter, the story reveals the stubbornness of human behavior even in the face of tragedy. This is a story worth reading and acting on.
Reviewed by Isabel Hernandez