Monday, October 19, 2009

Hate List

Ordinarily I do not read these kind of novels. I read to escape because there is too much of this kind of stuff in the papers, on the radio and on television. However, the synopsis inside the dust jacket got me curious. It was a little slow getting into the book, but I was definitely glad I stuck with it.

On a May morning at Garvin High School, Nick Levil leads his girlfriend Valerie Leftman into the Commons looking for a girl who broke Val's MP3 player. Val thinks that Nick is going to make Christy Bruter give her the money for a new player. Instead, to her horror, Nick pulls out a gun and shoots Christy in the abdomen. He then proceeds to shoot other students. As Valerie begins to realized that Nick is not going to stop, she runs to him so she can make him stop. As she shields another student, Nick shoots her in the leg. Perhaps the shock of seeing her shot, makes Nick turn the gun on himself, but at any rate the shooting stops.

I cannot even imagine how I would react if I experience such a traumatic, horrific event. The author seemed to capture the atmosphere of Garvin after the shootings. How the whole community was affected and how the people were changed. No one was left unscathed.

The journey that Valerie began after that tragic day is mind boggling, extremely painful (both emotionally and physically) and emotionally draining. Alternating between despair, guilt, loneliness and need for forgiveness and acceptance, Valerie barely makes it through the school year. She was very troubled and confused. Perhaps if she hadn't been so angry, she might have been able to prevent Nick from killing anyone. She gets help from a psychiatrist and unexpected help from someone she would never have thought would give a damn about her.

The other characters who run the gamut of those who want her in jail to those who see her as a hero, seem to be true-to-life. It was interesting to get to know the characters before the shooting in flashbacks and see how much they have changed. I could identify with each one of them and could understand why they felt that way. And yet I abhorred those that hated her because hate was the very reason so many had died.

The end is bittersweet. I guess I wanted a happy ending, but how could something like this be a live happily ever after kind of ending? Perhaps this is as good as it can get. At least there is some hope. Jennifer Brown wrote what seems to me to be a realistic novel. Too bad this one has played out way too many times not only at schools but at too many other places in the world.

Hate List makes you think about how fragile life really is and how all to easily anyone could make up their own hate list and do something about it. This is a book that should read and discussed. Perhaps if we looked more closely at our own feeling and tried to come to terms with our bias, we could prevent some of the tragedies that occur all too often in this world.

1 comment:

Karen said...

This is why you need to pay attention when your boyfriend talks about killing people!