Hate List involves some pretty powerful stuff. Valerie's boyfriend Nick orchastrates a shooting in their high school cafeteria, targeting specific people whose names appeared on the (soon-to-be infamous) Hate List. Valerie puts an end to the massacre, saves Skinny Barbie Rich Bitch Jessica Campbell's life, and gets shot in the leg before Nick turns the gun on himself. Valerie's the one who started the Hate List. She that everyone -- even her family -- blames her in part for the death of all the others.
Jennifer Brown is able to present every single character as a human being. Everything is gray in this novel, None of the emotions are black or white and no one is strictly good or bad, and this forces the reader to "see what's really there" instead of what we're trying to see, or want to see, or what we think we should see. Adults and kids alike make mistakes, react badly, handle situations wrong, and are trying to survive the best they can. But in particular, the depth of pain that exists inside Valerie's character is incredible. It has been a long time since I've read a story that has been so heart-wrenching or so inspiring. Valerie is stronger than she knows, even without a lot of support from anyone save her therapist (who, by the end of the story, you wish you had in your own life). It is impossible to imagine living in Valerie's world, but she gives you an incredible taste of survival.
Call number: YA BROWN (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian.