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What a great debut novel by Jennifer Brown! Imagine you are madly in love with a brooding bad boy and you list the names of everyone you hate in a notebook. Valerie Leftman is this girl, a junior at Garvin High, who has loved Nick Levil for the last few years. They are outcasts and bullied by the popular teens in their school. Only problem is, Nick takes the hate list and begins shooting on May 2 of their junior year after one bully, Christy, breaks Val’s MP3 player. Val desperately tries to stop the shooting, only to be accidentally shot by Nick, who then turns the gun on himself. As Valerie recuperates in the hospital with her leg wound, and also in the in-patient psychiatric ward, she continually replays her relationship with Nick and how she didn’t see what he was planning. Nick had an unhappy home life and Val’s parent’s fights had become very bitter. Her mother is suffocating and distrustful after the shooting and her father is furious with her total lack of judgment. After spending her summer recuperating and seeing a shrink, Dr. Hieler, Valerie decides to return to her high school “to see what’s out there.” There are many students who hate her, but one student, Jessica (who Val dove in front of and saved) continually reaches out and gets Val involved in the senior time capsule project. Throughout her senior year, Val slowly lets go of her love for Nick, realizes her parent’s marriage will not survive, owns up to her role that tragic day, and how to move forward, forgive, apologize, and heal. This is a sad, depressing book with a truly redemptive ending.

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