As y'all know, I'm a Library Science student at University of North Texas. This semester I have the pleasure of taking an AWESOME class called Seminar and Trends in YA! This semester the focus is YA books! One of the things we have to do is read some books from a list my Prof has provided us and then make up a blog and post reviews or features of what we have read!
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
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.
This week in our lesson we talked about how important schools in YA were. My professor brought up a really interesting point, that sometimes the schools in YA are so prominent that they seem like actual characters. While reading this, I could see exactly what she meant.
In this book, most of the time the school was referred to as just Garvin. Not Garvin High School. It gave it a more "human" name. And then there was the fact that the main plot had to do with an incident that happened at the school, and then was brought back up when Val started back at high school. I'm not sure I can explain it, but this story definitely showed me what it would be like to have the school be a character in a sense.
Another thing I thought about while reading this was a song I once played in band. It was called "An American Elegy" by Frank Ticheli. We played it for UIL band and I remember us getting the best grade we'd ever gotten that year. The song itself was written for the Columbine shooting and even feature some of the school's school song in it. That year at UIL I remember leaving the stage where we performed with tears in my eyes (I wasn't the only one) but definitely excited because anytime we played and it moved even us to tears, that meant we had done an amazing job. From then on, this song always reminds me that a tragedy can still spark something so beautiful. Just like Val's tale in Hate List by Jennifer Brown.
*Fun fact, this version is actually from UNT's North Texas Wind Symphony!*