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Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary

Release Date: 9/1/2009

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About the Book: Five months ago, Valerie's boyfriend Nick opened fire on their classmates and then turned the gun on himself. As Valerie was trying to stop him, she managed to get shot in the leg and saved the life of one of her classmates Nick was trying to shoot. All at once she being called an accomplice and a hero. Valerie had started a "hate list" which Nick used to choose the people he would go after. Valerie never meant for anyone to get hurt, but she's faced with anger and resentment as she returns to school. Navigating a school year where no one wants her around, her family falling apart in the midst of tragedy, and haunted by memories of Nick, Valerie must come to terms with the tragedy that changed her life and learn how to make amends and move on.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I've had the ARC of this one sitting in my TBR pile since I picked it up at ALA last year and kept meaning to read it, but it would get snatched up by my library teens. Finally I got the chance to read it thanks to the Gateway Reader's Award List and after I finished it I was kicking myself for not reading it earlier.

Hate List blew me away. I couldn't believe this was Jennifer Brown's debut novel. Hate List is a powerful and emotional read that left me thinking about it long after I finished. Valerie's story is unique in that the author makes the reader really wonder about her. Was she truly a victim like everyone else? Or was she an accomplice-knowing or unknowingly? She was bullied and made fun of in school, so did she have the right to fight back in her own way and create her "hate list" as a way to vent her anger and nothing more or did she really want to see those people hurt? Do we ever really mean what we say in our anger?

This one left me in tears. I was so drawn into Valerie's story and I had to read this in one sitting. As hard as it was to read-and honestly, it's somewhat emotionally draining to read-I couldn't pull myself away. I felt Valerie's pain and I understood why she did was she did. At the same time I could understand why her fellow students didn't want her around. The double edged sword Valerie finds herself with during her senior year is something that will make readers think and makes this book stand out. This is a book that begs to be a book discussion title-it needs to be discussed by its readers after they finish.

The story is wonderfully layerd and put together. We get the story told in present day with Valerie going back to school and then in flashbacks leading up to the shooting and the day of the shooting itself. We also get to read newspaper clippings about those that were injured or killed in the shooting and this manages to be an incredibly heartbreaking and effective way for us to get to know all those involved and from various points of view.

Valerie is a character that you want to read about. Not only is she dealing with facing her classmates after this tragedy and dealing with being blamed, but she's also dealing with the loss of her boyfriend. She's struggling with trying to figure out exactly what went wrong-when did Nick snap and what made him do it? Could she have stopped it? And did she ever really know Nick at all? I liked that I never found her voice to be whiny and full of a pity-party and really I think she had every right to be. But instead her voice is honest and real.

Although this book is sad and heartbreaking it's also full of hope-and not in a cheesy way. The whole book rang true for me and I think teen readers will appreciate that the story never takes the easy way out. I can't wait to see what Jennifer Brown has up next-I know I won't put off reading it!

Book Pairings: Readers who like Ellen Hopkins realistic fiction and want more books like that (although Hate List is not written in verse) and readers who like Laurie Halse Anderson's contemporary novels. Also could pair well with You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz for another book with a girl dealing with the loss of a boyfriend and the questions she's left with.

The paperback has a new cover-do you like the hardcover or paperback cover better?

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC from publsiher picked up at ALA


  1. Great review, Sarah! This was one of my favorites from 2009 too. I loved the ending and the layers of Valerie's character. Depending on how you read the book she's a perpetrator, a victim, or both. I also thought the book would make a great pair with Asher's 13 Reasons Why too.

  2. Yes-It would pair great with 13 Reasons Why! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Yay I'm glad you got around to reading this one. It definitely became an instant favorite for mine and I was in some tears at the end. I cannot wait for Jennifer Brown's next book - she is such a fantastic writer!

  4. I, too, let this one sit on the TBR shelf for waaaaay too long!

  5. Wooooow. Hate List sounds gut wrenching. Have you read 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult?? That book did an amazing job of making the reader look at all sides of a horrific situation. Thanks for another great recommendation!

  6. I loved this book. Brown wrote it phenomenally and with great care about a sensitive subject.

  7. YES! Loved this book. :P So much. I cried and wanted to hug it and Valerie and yes, it would be great with 13 Reasons Why.
    I actually do kinda like the paperback. I think it's more accessible.

  8. This is a wonderful review of this book & I agree with the others that you would probably like 19 Minutes & 13 Reasons Why. I am the mother of 8th gr girl & 10th gr Autistic boy & I strongly believe material like this should be manditory reading. So many teens can't see how their actions affect others until it's too late.

    Great review & I hope many will take your advice & read this book!


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