Healing From Hate

The Hate List Grapples With the Aftermath of Violence

Rachel Taylor, Photo Editor

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown is a riveting novel that could be relatable to many different readers. The story follows high school student Valerie Leftman (Val) as she returns to school after a shooting that took place the previous year, the gunman being her boyfriend Nick Levil. Nick opened fire in the school cafeteria one morning, killing and injuring students, teachers, and himself after he was done.

Val takes a bullet in the leg to cover a student that was on a private list her and Nick kept, The Hate List. Val and Nick would write down the names of students who bullied them or gave them a hard time in school, little did Val know Nick was plotting to kill every last one of them. Although Valerie never intended to get anyone hurt, she was tied into all of it because of the list. Valerie must make it through a year of school facing people her boyfriend hurt, whether they were actually shot, or they lost a friend in the shooting. Valerie struggles to make amends with her peers as she is still grieving the loss of her boyfriend.

Val sees a counselor, Dr. Hieler, who is the first person she opens up to about the shooting completely. Taking his advice, Val tries to find some peace of mind after her traumatic experiences. She must face her fears and come to an understanding with her parents, her peers and her teachers and why everyone sees her differently.

Throughout the novel, Valerie begins to mature and unravel the mystery of who she thought was her boyfriend. The novel would be a good read for any high school student to raise awareness of mental health and the signs that someone may be contemplating violence.