School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-At the end of their junior year, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend pulls a gun in the Commons, leaving six students and a teacher dead and many others wounded. Valerie is hit by a bullet in the leg trying to stop him, just before he ends his own life. Until that point, Valerie had no idea that the "hate list" that she and Nick created would be used to target victims in a vengeful shooting spree. For her, the list of tormentors was a way to ease the pain of being bullied and an outlet against the constant fighting between her parents. Although the police investigation reveals that Valerie had nothing to do with the actual shootings, many people in her community, including her parents, have a hard time believing that she is not at fault, too. With the help of a patient and insightful therapist, Valerie bravely returns to school after the summer to face the challenges before her. Told by Valerie in then-and-now chapters, with a few "excerpts" from local newspaper articles added for perspective, this is a startling, powerful, and poignant account of the incidents leading up to, immediately following, and continuing through the teen's senior year of realization and recovery. Valerie is stronger than she knows-a beautifully drawn character who has suffered pain, guilt, and incredible stress as she heals from the shooting, the loss of a troubled boyfriend she deeply loved, and difficult family circumstances. Readers drawn to Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (Razorbill, 2007) and Brooke Taylor's Undone (Walker, 2008) will snap this novel up as well.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list It is September, and senior Valerie Leftman is heading back to school. Five months earlier, her boyfriend, Nick, opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing six and wounding others before committing suicide. Despite being wounded herself while trying to stop Nick and save classmates, Val has been the focus of police investigations and rumors due to the Hate List, composed of classmates' names, which she created to vent her frustration about bullies. Struggling with guilt and grief, Val begins school as the ultimate outcast, but she finds one unexpected ally. Most books about school shootings focus on the horrifying event itself, but this debut novel breaks ground by examining the aftermath. Brown uses a creative structure of alternating narratives that incorporate excerpts from newspapers. The characters, including the many adults, are well drawn and become more nuanced as Val heals and gains perspective. Filled with unanswered questions, this compelling novel will leave teens pondering the slippery nature of perception and guilt.--Rutan, Lynn Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly When Val and her boyfriend Nick write the names of the people who torment or annoy them in a notebook dubbed the "Hate List," she has no idea that Nick will use it as a checklist the day he brings a gun to school, killing several people, including himself, and wounding many more. Brown's riveting debut initially cuts between the day of the shooting in May and the following September when school begins again, then focuses on the aftermath of the shooting and the rest of Val's senior year; newspaper clips are interspersed throughout. Val's guilt is explored in realistic scenes with a therapist; she helped write the list ("[it] started as a joke. A way to vent frustration") but also stopped the shooting by taking a bullet for popular student Jessica, now Val's staunchest defender. Val's complicated relationship with her family, Jessica and the surviving victims, as well as how she comes to terms with Nick's betrayal, are piercingly real, and the shooting scenes wrenching. Her successes are hard-won and her setbacks, such as her father's inability to forgive her, painfully true to life. Ages 15-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved