Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: Hate List

I didn't think I was going to like this book, Hate List. It was selected for my March Young at Heart book club (we read young adult literature, but most of us are well past the young adult range). To begin with, it was about a school shooting. Depressing, right? Surprisingly, I did get engrossed in the book and came to genuinely like the main character.

On a lark, Valerie Leftman and her boyfriend began making a "hate list," of things and people they hated. For Valerie, it was all a way of blowing off steam when others bullied her. She had no idea that her boyfriend, Nick Levil, would one day decide to really punish those on the hate list. Valerie attempted to stop him, jumping in front of Jessica, one of the targeted girls, and taking a bullet to her leg. Then, she watched as her boyfriend put the gun to his own head.

That is a summary of what propels the story in this book, but the book is about so much more than the school shooting. The book is primarily about Valerie's road to recovery. She has to decide if she is the hero or villain of the story. She must return to life at her high school and face the fallout of that fateful day. Without much support at home, she works with Dr. Hieler, to face her demons and attempt to see what is really there.

If you're looking for a plot-driven story, you'll have to look elsewhere. But, if you like to delve into the mind of an individual facing a tragic and emotionally-fraught circumstance, then this is the book for you. I appreciated that all of the characters eventually were portrayed as both bad and good. Their humanity was, at times, open and raw, and at other times, tender and redeeming.

This is just another great debut novel. The writing flowed, the characters were well-drawn, the concepts beneath the surface worth considering. I foresee many more titles from this author (who also writes middle-grade fiction and women's fiction - see her website for more information, including information about a novella connected to this book).

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