“Hate List,” My Thoughts
* This article contains spoilers of the book Hate List.
Hate List by Jennifer Brown, a very interesting book, is about a girl named Valerie who falls in love with a boy named Nick. A different point of your typical high school romance between two outcasts, the rather cliché sounding plot takes a dark turn.
One day, Valerie meets up with Nick in the hallway and she shows him her “Hate List.” This is a list of things and people that the lovers hate. The content of the list ranges from things like Homer Simpson to instant mashed potatoes, but the list grows to include more alarming things like people who bully them at school, as well as the main character’s own father.
Valerie and Nick deal with things that most teenagers deal with, like going to parties, doing school work, and temptations like sex and alcohol.
They also deal with bullies. There is one particular scene in the book where a guy named Chris puts his chewing gum into Nick’s mashed potatoes, which of course he doesn’t like because he added instant mashed potatoes to the list. The way the pair brushes it off it seems like that sort of thing happens often.
One day, when a girl breaks Valerie’s phone, all hell breaks loose and Nick begins to plan a mass shooting, which he eventually carries out at the school.
The targets are kids who were mean to them, but also people they didn’t know. Before taking his own life, Nick tries to shoot one of the girls who was extremely mean to Valerie. Instead, Valerie jumps in front of her and ends up getting shot herself.
Valerie wakes up from surgery with little memory of the event; she has no memory of what happened to her or the death of her lover.
I think when looking at this book, at least up to this point, the list that they make does seem like a fantasy or a way to vent frustration because they’re not going to take their anger out on instant mashed potatoes and a cartoon character.
Valerie recovers and eventually becomes friends with the girl, Jessica, whose life was spared because of her. Most of Jessica’s friends hate Valerie, and someone even threatened to rape and kill her
I understand why people would feel very angry at Valerie: she wasn’t connected to the shooting, but she did take part in the list. However, I think it’s really great that Jessica actually became her friend.
The fact that people want to reach out to Valerie is what pushes her to get help, and I think that’s really important. She did try to get help. Ultimately, Valerie learns to cope better and is able to become stronger, even taking on the newspaper who made such a mockery of her life.
She doesn’t have a relationship with her father anymore. He was on the list, but ultimately what ended the relationship is the fact that he had an affair and the new wife doesn’t really like Valerie being around and sees her and her issues as burdensome. In addition to parenting in a very selfish way, her father and his wife are the type to buy his son presents instead of spending actual time with him. I understand why there’s not a lot of forgiveness.
In the end, Valerie recovers and even begins to plan for college, and gets a kind of quiet revenge on the reporter who was making her life hell. Valerie’s Mom and Dad split up and her brother lives with their dad. The book ends with a fantasy of Valerie being in Europe with Nick. This is heartbreaking, but a good way to show Valerie’s emotions.