Valerie's boyfriend, Nick, goes on a shooting rampage at school and kills several people. His targets were people on Valerie's Hate List- a list of people and things they hated. After spending the summer by herself, Valerie decides to go back to school for her senior year. This proves even tougher than she thought as people question just how much Valerie knew about the shooting before hand. She learns a lot about friendships and enemies during this journey.
Jennifer Brown really touches on what it's like to feel like an outcast and gets into Valerie's mind as she deals with the pieces of her shattered life- at home and at school-after the shooting. Valerie realizes that people don't always stand by you when you need them and allies can come from surprising places.
I really enjoyed this book. I could feel Valerie's anxiety. Bullying doesn't just come from shoving someone in a locker. Name calling, especially at the middle school and high school level, seem to affect people for many many years. While I never condone violence, I can see how a person can get to the point where they feel there is no other option. As a teacher, I have to figure out how see the signs before it even gets to that point. We have to give kids other options. We have to teach kids that yes, words can hurt even more and they stay with us much longer than the bruises from sticks and stones.
Hate List is scheduled to be released in September 2009 from Little, Brown
*By the way- there are still a couple days left to enter the Prophecy of the Sisters contests. See the previous post for details.