Book Review: Hate List

Hate List by Jennifer Brown is one of the best YA books I've read in a long time. Well, I should temper this by saying that it's one of the best realistic YA books I've read for a long time (because I'm currently reading Libba Bray's Going Bovine and I adore it!) I really, really want to the girls in the Chick Lit Book Club to read this title next year because it will provoke some great discussion.

This book is centered around a school shooting. The story is narrated by Valerie, who survived the shooting, but whose boyfriend was the shooter. He committed suicide after killing several classmates and a teacher. One of the worst parts of this situation for Valerie is that she (somewhat) inspired the killings with her "Hate List"--A list of peers and teachers whom she "hated" because of the way that they had bullied and treated her and her boyfriend.

Now, Valerie is without her boyfriend/ best friend and is hated by most everyone in the school. For a variety of reasons, she chooses to go back to her high school and face her classmates and teachers. Some treat her as if she pulled the trigger, but there are a couple of surprising people who come to her defense.

This is an emotional and realistic read, but important in this post-Columbine world. There is no way, in my opinion, to understand violence and hatred, but if we talk about it openly, there may be room for a variety of viewpoints and life experiences to come through. And, the book is well-written and could serve as a great vehicle for book club discussions!