The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

On May 2nd, 2008 Garvin High School’s commons erupted into loud shots as students were targeted due to “the hate list,” created by Nick Levil and Valerie Leftmen.  Only, Valerie never expected it to go that far . . .

Valerie, known to many her junior year as “Sister Death,” (not a nickname she appreciated) was tired of being bullied, but undoubtedly, her boyfriend, Nick, got the brunt of the abuse.  They were repeatedly made to feel inferior, and according to Nick, even losers get to be winners sometimes.  Readers learn in the beginning of The Hate List by Jennifer Brown that Nick takes a gun to school killing many students on the list and then turns the gun on himself.

The real story starts when Valerie returns to Garvin High in the fall to finish her senior year.  She has many obstacles, both physical and emotional to overcome.  The school is portrayed as a happy unified place after the shootings, but once inside, Valerie sees a different view.  It is hard for her to find people to trust and for others to trust her.  Valerie makes some friends in unlikely places and while Val is continuingly changing throughout the novel, so is Jessica Campbell one of the high school’s most popular cheerleaders and Student Council President.

The Hate List is told in four parts, each representing a turning point in Valerie’s life.  It raises questions about guilt and forgiveness.  What it means to be bullied and the aftermath of school violence.

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