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review: “hate list” September 1, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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(Yay! “Hate List” is now available wherever books are sold! Give my library another week to process it.)


Hate List by Jennifer Brown.
Little, Brown // ARC // 416 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC provided by the publisher.

It’s been five months since Val’s boyfriend Nick brought a gun to school and open fired in the school cafeteria. Val’s been painted as part of the problem because the names of the targets Nick shot at were all on their “Hate List.” Shot herself, she spent the summer hiding out, but has decided to return to school to complete her senior year. Her friends have left her, her enemies are suddenly hanging around, and the school is reciting the party line that the shooting has built their community, that hate has disappeared. Val’s stuck in a maelstrom of feelings as she tries to come to terms with the shooting and her place in it.

I was a freshman in high school when Columbine happened. I was a sophomore when we started practicing “Code Red” drills. I was a sophomore when someone brought a gun to my school and was only suspended. We didn’t make the news because no one was shot.

I knew that reading this book would be difficult for me. I didn’t realize exactly how much I needed to read it though.

Val’s story is told in newspaper articles, in flashbacks, and in present tense. Her feelings are real, tangible, and I was caught up in her own turmoil, in her own confusion.

This novel is about more than a school shooting. It is about the aftermath, the new school rules, the media attention, the media spin, and hate. And bullying. And cliques. And everything that adults like to pretend doesn’t exist in high school, everything that adults like to chalk up to as “adolescent behavior.”

I have long since believed that adults need to open their eyes.

This book is accessible, and I hope that adults will find it as well as teens. I’m already thinking about doing a book club feature, pairing this with a non-fiction read.

A must buy for YA collections.

SWAN catalog
Jennifer Brown




1. Jenny - September 1, 2009

I can’t wait to read this, it sounds brilliant. Thanks for the review!

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