Today we are going to be discussing Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Now, this is my first official review post of 2015 so let me explain how we are going to do this before we begin. At the beginning of the post I will state the book that is being reviewed, show a picture of the book being reviewed, and give a short non-spoilery summary of the book. After all of that there will be a page break. If you specifically clicked on this post there won't be a page break, but you will be aware when the spoilers start. Alright, enough of that, let's get into the story.
Hate List is written from the point of view of Valerie Leftman, a high school senior whose boyfriend committed a school shooting. Despite knowing just as much about the shooting as everyone else, and her own serious injury, she's seen as guilty because of the list. The list was just a silly little thing to Valerie, but it was what Nick used to pick his targets. Now, after a summer of hiding from everyone else, Valerie is forced to return to Garvin High, and face the guilt of the previous year. While navigating through forgotten friendships, family issues, and memories of the boy she once loved, Valerie must grasp the tragedy that took place, and her role in it, in order to move on with her new life.
Let's begin or more in-depth study of this book.
Valerie (or Val) was very easy for me to relate to. As a teenager, I found that issues such as broken friendships, not trusting adults, and frustration with life is quite relevant. Valerie also lives in a broken home, making her just *that* much more relatable to many teens. This may make me seem like a horrible person, but I honestly fell completely in love with Nick. As someone who reads to calm down, Nick was relatable, as well as being one of the cutest boyfriends ever. (I'm sorry my thoughts aren't too well put together, I literally finished the book ten minutes ago and the emotions are really raw.) One of my favorite characters in the book was Dr. Hieler. Dr. Hieler encouraged Valerie through everything, and honestly, was five times (maybe even more) better than her parents at talking to her. Dr. Hieler was one of the few characters who believed that Valerie had nothing to do with the shooting. I also loved how Dr. Hieler, while being incredibly comforting, was very real. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Hieler was:
Life isn't fair. A fair's a place where you eat corn dogs and ride the ferris wheel.
Another one of my favorite characters was Bea. I feel as though Bea provided Valerie with a chance to release herself like Nick did when he read Shakespeare. Now, least favorite characters. The character I hated the most was Valerie's dad. Despite the fact that Valerie tried her hardest to please him, he was always completely rude and resentful back. He truly believed that even though his daughter never had picked up a gun, she was responsible for the deaths of the people Nick killed. Valerie's father was also a huge source of distress at home, later on in the story we find out that is because he was having an affair with someone who works for him. Eventually, Valerie's father leaves, telling her that he will never forgive her for what she never intended to do. In all honesty, 99 percent of the time Valerie's father talked, I want to reach into the story and throw him into the depths of tartarus. The other characters I strongly disliked included Mr. Angerson, Angela Dash, and Jenny Leftman (Valerie's mother).
The last thing I'm going to write about is my favorite quotes. I like so many passages in this book, and since I didn't think about writing a review until just now, I didn't keep track of them, so these are only a few of my favorites.
Just like there's always time for pain, there's always time for healing.
Because who you are is supposed to be the easiest question in the world to answer, right?
Sometimes even stuff you expect to happen can still hurt.
But what he didn't understand was that we all had to be losers, too. Because you can't have one without the other.
People do it all the time -- assume they "know" what's going on in someone else's head. That's impossible. And to think that it's possible is a mistake. A really big mistake. A life-ruining one if you're not careful.
and finally my favorite:
At Garvin High we were dealt a hard dose of reality this year. People hate. That's our reality. People hate and are hated and carry grudges and want punishments ... I don't know if it's possible to take away from people. Not even people like us, who've seen firsthand what hate can do. We're all hurting. We're all going to be hurting for a long time. And we, probably more than anyone else out there, will be searching for a new reality every day. A better one ... But in order to change reality you have to be willing to listen and to learn. And to hear. To actually hear.
Thanks for reading,