The Hate List follows Valerie deal with the aftermath of a school shooting caused by her boyfriend. Valerie, who was extensively bullied, had a notebook in which she and her boyfriend wrote down the name of anyone that insulted or irritated or hurt them which she called the hate list. Little did she know that her boyfriend would take that list and use it to shoot students at their school. The novel follows her (in flashbacks, newspaper articles and in the present) as she deals with the aftermath of her boyfriends actions, his death, difficult experiences at school and tries to pull her life back together.
The Hate List is very well written and engrossing. It is thought provoking and asks many questions of the reader and the ending is very emotionally draining. It would be excellent for reading groups and almost demands discussion as to the many issues that the characters face. The author is brave enough not to wrap everything up in a pretty little bow and make everything turn out all right at the end and that adds to the brilliance of the novel.
Appropriateness: The book contains many sensitive issues. There is suicide, self injury, bullying, substance abuse, violence and sexual assault. It can be a very difficult read even for adults and can be very upsetting. If your younger teen wants to read the book I would encourage them to talk to you about the different issues that the characters face and what different decisions each could make and how they could have changed the outcome by their actions. I would gauge the interest level as 13+ . Scholastic lists the reading level as 5.6 with a lexile of 760.