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Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite
Hate List is the story of what is left behind when the dust settles after a school shooting, and those who are left pick up the pieces of their fragile and newly broken lives. Valerie's boyfriend opened fire in the school cafeteria nearly 6 months ago. Though Valerie helped to save another student, her involvement with Nick implicates her in the shootings, particularly because she helped create the "hate list" that Nick used to make a hit list of the people to kill at school. Now it's Valerie's senior year and she's still struggling with grief and guilt, and trying to figure out how to deal with broken relationships with her friends, her family, and even the girl whom she saved.
What an intense book. Jennifer Brown blew me away with the emotional depth and confusion all wrapped up inside Hate List. What a powerful thought, to try to understand a shooter's point of view, or more relevantly, the shooter's friends, family, and even girlfriend. No one really listens to these people; the public just points fingers and apportions blame, but these people probably are swamped with their own grief and misery, along with guilt about it. I absolutely loved this book, and I believe that having listened to it as an audio book really helped convey the tone and the message. This is a great one to give your teens, particularly if they are mature enough to understand and acknowledge that school shootings are a very real and scary possibility in this day and age. Jennifer Brown is officially one of my new favorite authors and I can't wait to hear more from her intelligent, creative, and deep mind.