ISBN-13: 9780316041447
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: September 2009
416 pgs
Source: Library

Valerie Leftman first created a 'hate list' as a way for venting her frustrations of being bullied in school and some of the problems she faced with her parents. Little does she knows that this list ended up as a 'victims list' after her boyfriend, Nick, pulled the gun on them before killing himself. This has left Valerie in a devastated state, for she could not believe Nick would commit such a crime. She had shared her 'hate list' with him because she thought Nick would be able to understand her frustrations since he too, was being bullied in school. And no matter how angry she felt towards some of her classmates, she never wanted them to die. Needless to say, the entire incident left her shaken and she could not help wondering if she should be blamed for coming up with the list in the first place. Though she got hit in the leg while saving a classmate, many people still have doubts about her and think she was somewhat involved in Nick's shooting.

After the horrendous incident, she returns to school but not without the help with some therapy. Back at home, her behaviour is being scrutinised by her mother for she fears that she would do something silly; while her father thinks she is nothing but trouble. Though she accepted that fact that Nick had killed some of their classmates, she also thought of the wonderful times she had had with the old geeky Nick and wondered if his horrific action was actually an influence by one of his friends.

Told from Valerie's perspective through flashbacks and the present day, Hate List is a powerful and a thought-provoking read about school shooting and above all, an account of how Valerie has to face the challenges thereafter as well as acceptance from the survivors. I don't think I have ever read any books about school shooting so Hate List is considered a new 'territory' to me. I felt there are many messages conveyed in this story, but that does not mean the essence of the story is being lost. What I meant was, while one read for the story, one could not help but to think deeply of the issues and the consequences of them.

While reading Hate List, I also questioned myself if Valerie be viewed as a victim or otherwise? Would the tragedy be avoided if Valerie would vend her feelings to her parents or teachers instead of keeping them to herself? And what about the classmates who tormented her? etc etc. It was after when I finished reading the story, I realised that this book is not about finding who's right or wrong, and rather than pointing fingers it is more of bringing awareness so that this tragedy would not happen again.

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8 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    School shooting have been one of the hot topics in new now these days. It's tragedy when thing like this happen. It always worry me when there a students who does this crime because of being bullied or it's peer pressure. Sad but true. Great review Melody

  2. Ana S. Says:

    "...this book is not about finding who's right or wrong, and rather than pointing fingers it is more of bringing awareness so that this tragedy would not happen again."

    That's exactly what makes it sound so appealing. Excellent review, Melody.

  3. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    And it definitely WOULD be easy to point fingers in a situation like this. In these cases, though, everyone is a victim.

  4. S. Krishna Says:

    Great review! I read this one, but didn't know what I wanted to say about it when I was finished so I put off writing the review and never got around to it! You did a great job with it.

  5. The Bookworm Says:

    Wow, this sounds intense. Its true, its not about placing blame on these children.

  6. Iliana Says:

    Oh this is a lot more intense than I imagined. Sounds like it would be a good book for discussion doesn't it?

    Great review, Melody!

  7. Darlene Says:

    Great review Melody. It sounds like a very intense book but one I might like.

  8. Melody Says:

    Hi everyone! Thanks for your comments. Once again, I apologise for not replying on a one-to-one basis. Monday is always a crazy day for me, with so many catching up to do, work wise and books blogging related! Still, I'm always trying my best to read all the blogs on my Google Reader, though I might not comment on all but I do read every one of them! :)

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It wasn't a happy story, but I think this issue will make us all think about school shooting and all.

    Finally, I hope you all have a great week ahead!

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