Friday, March 26, 2010

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

This is a new take on a violent school shooting by an angry student in which one teacher and several students died. The cause is believed to be caused by anger at being bullied. The story
is named for a list of people, places, things that first a girl then she and her boy friend made. On it were popular kids who had been calling them names and otherwise mistreating the kids. The final straw seems to be that of a popular female athlete yanking the girl's mp3 player away on the bus and destroying it. The girl says she must pay then turns to boy friend and says make her pay. Valerie did not know that Nick would take her so seriously. Valerie did not know what Nick was planning. Valerie tried to stop the shooting and was injured herself. At least that is the conclusion reached by police investigators. There are those who doubt that. The shooting took place just before the end of the school year. Valerie has been healing from her wounds both physical and mental all summer. Now its time to start her senior year at the same high school at which the shooting took place. Valerie faces all the anxiety, negative reactions, false fronts, lies as best she can. She is an artist and begins painting and drawing to help herself. She seeks refuge first in the commons of the school where no one hangs out anymore then in a counselor's office. She, at first reluctantly helps student council with a memorial for the victims. Her parents were in the process of breaking up, this added to their problems, of course. Neither parent trusts her anymore and she makes matters worse by disappearing for hours as she struggles with the aftermath of the shooting. A younger brother Frankie all but disappears, said to be staying with a friend temporarily. He pops up again here and there but doesn't really fit in the story very well. Its an interesting view of the aftermath of a shooting, from a survivor who may be partly responsible. Its an unsatisfactory ending with Valerie hopping a train and riding into the sunset. That's with her parents who had been distrustful and controlling suddenly completely letting go and with Valerie having no idea where she is going or seemingly why. She seems to be running, giving up away rather than dealing. Her future doesn't look too bright. Maybe that's realistic. I don't know. I would rather have had her travelling to different colleges and art schools looking for a fit than giving up. This is very popular with the teens and mostly a good read. I would recommend it. JDW 3/26/10

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