I almost didn’t want to post anything today – I know you all are probably sick of reading my book reviews, but I have been reading so much lately! I think I’m using books as a bit of an escape from life, stress, grieving, etc… so I’m just going to go with it.
The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown. Before I get into this ANY further, here is the official description from Amazon.com:
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.
Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.
I was reading this book thinking, “Wow, this is so timely…” and then I saw it was published in 2010 and realized probably any book written about a mass shooting has been considered “timely” since Columbine.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into politics here, but it did break my heart just a little to realize that, yes, school shootings are so common now that they’re becoming topics in YA novels. Amirite?
I took note of some of my favorite lines from the book:
- “Bruter’s name was the first of hundreds on the now infamous ‘Hate List’, a red spiral notebook confiscated from Nick Levil’s home just hours after the shooting.”
- “And then there was the noise. It wasn’t so much a noise in my ears as it was in my brain. It sounded like the whole world was shutting down on me.”
- “I wanted her to smile, and I wondered if she smiled when she got home and held her kids or if she just came home and sat back in her recliner with a vodka and drank until she couldn’t hear gunshots.”
- “After your classmates get blown away pretty much everything else in the world – even your father bailing on your family – seems pretty trivial.”
This book did a good job of showing the other side of mass shootings – what happens to the people that knew and loved the person with the gun? It’s not something that is usually covered in the media, but is addressed locally; a funeral often has to be held for the accused as well.
The book also addresses mental health and how we (as humans) digest the things people say to us, such as, were those actual signs? Jokes? Could I have done something to prevent this from happening?
And finally, this story seemed so real; the characters, the school, the high school struggle – I couldn’t help but be completely submerged into this world. A truly fantastic read.
I’m recommending this one to YA novel lovers, and to anyone who enjoys human interest stories.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “There’s Someone Inside Your House” by Stephanie Perkins.
In other news, I DO have other ideas for blog posts in my mind, but like I said, I’ve simply been trying to just take it easy on myself and do anything that doesn’t feel awful. I had tickets to go to a hockey game last night, but when it came time to get into my car and go, I couldn’t do it. I was worried it would remind me too much of my dad and I’d just end up sitting there crying.
I have started going through some of the things willed to me by my dad and am documenting it on my Instagram account @OrangeJulius7 if you’d like to follow along – it’s part of a bigger project I will eventually reveal.