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Hate List Paperback – October 5, 2010
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.
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By tough, I mean the subject matter. School shootings are almost common these days. Sadly. People blame it on bullying, harassment, mental problems...and this book gives a point of view from someone on the "inside" of the shooting.
Valerie Leftman. She was the girlfriend of the shooter, Nick Levil. She was also a victim of his. And she saved other students from their demise. The book is from her POV and it covers many times--before the shooting when life seemed like rainbows with Nick, during the morning of the shooting, and the entire aftermath of life, in school and out.
She feels partly responsible because Nick was using their list of things they hate: the people that bullied them relentlessly to algebra because letters and numbers can't add. That list, almost a character in itself, was nothing but the grievances and stresses getting out there into the world. It made Valerie feel better, but Nick...
Well, he did shoot up the school.
This story was dark. It seemed there were more horrible occurrences than happy ones. Is that because the voice is of s girl who is depressed and she brings it down? Or is it the realities of life with the horrible things that go on in schools because those who feel they are "entitled" don't receive any consequences for their actions along with the horrible life at home?
I had to switch to something more carefree while reading this, because it just pulls you under in the deep end, and you have to surface and take a breath. I found myself crying or teary or angry. But no matter how down I felt, there was something making me read on and on.
The end (no spoilers, I promise) was not really an ending to Valerie's story. It was left open, maybe meaning that the future could be happy for her...or get worse...depending on what you wanted for her. I thought maybe there would be a sequel, as this one came out years ago, but nothing [yet] on Valerie's story.
A very good read. Maybe an important read for some circles. I would have loved to have someone read this with me so we could discuss the heavy issues and emotions, maybe use some of the questions and discussions in the guides beyond the stories...
When Valerie starts a HATE LIST of people who bullied her and treated her unkindly. She doesn't expect her boyfriend Nick to use that list for targets in a school shooting. Now Valerie is headed back to school to face classmates who probably wish she died in the shooting. With the help of a psychologist and an unlikely new friend, Valerie struggles to recover from the guilt and trauma she experienced.
Valerie's character was easy for me to get inside her head. She started her HATE LIST as a way of venting her frustrations with her dysfunctional family and the popular kids at school, never knowing it would snowball. How could she have known her boyfriend was capable of such carnage. I empathized with her struggles before and after the shooting. She was a fairly well rounded character. Jennifer Brown did a good job giving all her characters a certain amount of depth.
Brown used compelling voice in Valerie's narration. I like how she also included newspaper articles as a way to introduce readers to those who were shot by Nick. Brown researched trauma and recovery and accurately depicted Val's struggle to move on with her life. While HATE LIST had some degree of closure, a lot was left open ended, of which I'm not a fan.
THEMES: bullying, violence, high school, family, friendship, mental illness, PTSD
HATE LIST is a realistic story of recovering from a school shooting.
Valerie and Nick are dating and outcast in their high school. As most people can attest to high school can be rough and hard to get through. There is often bullying, social anxiety, and an array of other problems children often face. Valerie, trying to get rid of some frustrations starts a list of things that she hates, this list also includes names of people she hates. Valerie and Nick relish in this list but Nick takes it one step farther when he starts shooting kids at their high school.
Hate List deals with a lot of issues, school shootings, hate, bullying, cliques, family dynamic, and how hard peer-pressure can often be. For that reason I really found this book a great and easy read. There was nothing so graphic that it made it hard to read and would be suitable for any teen to read. I would actually recommend every teen possible read this!
A well written book that tells a story that is not talked about enough! Well worth the money and time to read this.
Valerie's boyfriend went on a shooting spree through the school. His victims were ones that he and Valerie had put on a "hate list." It was a way to release steam for her, but for him, it was more. So when the truth comes out after the shooting, it's hard to not blame Valerie for at least part of it. Even though she was the one that got in the way and stopped Nick from hurting more people.
Valerie makes the brave decision to go back to the high school for her senior year. She's faced with the uncertainty of acceptance and having to face all those people that knew they were on the list. The school has been changed and soon, one of the girls that had been on the list reaches out to her, and helps her find some acceptance within the school and with herself.
I was moved to tears at the end of this book. It was one of the most emotional ending I have ever read, and I applaud Brown for tackling this subject with grace and respect and writing one of the best books I have ever read.