Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The book starts off with Valerie Leftman, a junior in high school, making a list with her boyfriend. The list has all the future targets on it; all the things and people they hate most. One day, at the of their junior year, Nick, her boyfriend, unexpectedly pulls a gun in the cafeteria leaving 6 students and a teacher dead, and many wounded. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved a life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the lise she helped create. Nick later pulls the gun on himself, and Valerie is left alone to try and make sense of this horrible tragedy. After a summer of complete seclusion she is forced to go back to school to finish up her senior year and face the guilt. Throughout the rest of the book she tries to come to terms with the tragedy, and her role in it. She relives that day over and over again, and ponders why it happened to her. She believes the teribble relationship she had with her father, and the fact that she was a little bit of an outcast played a part in it. But she eventually recovers and mends all the broken relationships with her family and friends, and begins to move on.

Discussion Questions
1. Do you think Valerie should feel that much guilt for just making the list but not actually shooting the students? Is it her fault or just her boyfriend's?
2. If you were Valerie how would you feel coming back to school after the shooting?
3. Do you think you can ever fully recover when something that tragic happens to you?

21 comments:

Sydney C.13-14 said...

1. I believe that it is all Nick's fault. Valerie can't feel guilty for her boyfriend taking action to a harmless private list on paper. It may make me think about the impact my words and suggestions may have on other people, but one can't account for the crazy actions of someone else, that is beyond her control.

3. I think tragic events will always stick with you, but it is definitely possible for her to heal enough to a point where she can move on with her life.

allie s 11-12 said...

I don't think its Valerie's fault at all and she shouldn't feel guilty. She didn't know that Nick would do that. I agree with Sydney and how it would make me second guess every word i say and write down. If i were her going back to school, it might be hard but because a horrible thing happened there, not because of the list. And yes i would recover, but i would never forget.

Brad S 11-12 said...

1. I believe that it is indeed both of their fault. Their "hatred" is just anger for something they can not comprehend about others because they don't care to learn more about them, which is ignorance to then make a "hate list" and wish them dead. It is very immature and shows how childish both of them really are. Just because she didn't actually kill the people, does not mean she is not guilty and shouldn't feel bad. Isn't there something called "assisted murder?" It's basically the same thing. They both talked about killing their classmates because they were different from them. The only thing that's different is her boyfriend was more radical and could not control himself as "well" as she could.

SeanK56 said...

3. Yes it is possible and many people do it, its pretty much a self confidence thing. But something like this could damage you so badly and mess with your mind for the rest of your life, just knowing it may partially be your fault.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

I believe that it is partly Valarie/s fault as well as Nick's. They both pretty much created a hit list, whether or not Valarie had any intentions of killing anyone on it. She should most definitely feel guilty because all those people she didn't like died. It may not be her fault that it happened, but she helped her boyfriend with that list when she could have spoken out against him creating it.

I would be scared and probably would feel as if eveyone thought it was my fault, even if they never found out about the hate list to begin with. It would be tough coming back regardless of whether or not she didn't like those people; a shooting is a shooting and it is a terrible thing.

I'm not sure if I could ever fully recover, but I'm sure people have. It really all depends on the individual and how strong they are.

Kali D. 13-14 said...

3. I dont think anyone could really fully recover from something as tragic as that. Even if you try to move on from that situation, it will always be a part of you and will always be in the back of your mind.

Justin B. 11-12 said...

1. Yes, but I would have to approach it objectively to make what I believe is the right choice.

2. Yes, if someone is brain dead they will never be able to do anything again as we cannot grow them more brain cells (yet), and so keeping them "alive" if you want to call it that is a waste of resources and the hospital's time but I can understand why parents wouldn't want to pull the plug on their child's life support which is why I said I would have to approach the decision objectively. I know if I was brain dead I wouldn't want people wasting resources on me when they could go to someone who had a chance at living.

Justin B. 11-12 said...

^ crap, wrong book, sorry about that everyone

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I definitely agree, I think she will never be able to forget what happend because it was so tragic. It will always be apart of her but she can move on and not let it define her.

McKenzieM 11-12 said...

I also think that if I were Valerie I would have felt guilty too. She was there with him to make the list, even though she didn't kill anyone, I think that just being that attached to the person that did it would make me feel like I was just as big a part of it as he was.

Allie H 11-12 said...

Answering question # 1, I think Valerie should feel pretty guilty for making a list. By helping her boyfriend make the list, she motivated him to actually go through with it. If she would have just talked him through his problems, she could have convinced him to put those thoughts of hatred aside and to go seek professional help. But this situation is not just her fault. She could have tried to prevent it, but she did not.

James F (11-12) said...

1. yes valerie should feel guilty because she was idiotic enough to make a list of "targets" with her psycho boyfriend. she should have been more responsible and more mature and not make a horrible list.
2. i would feel like everyone hated me and but maybe at the same time were ok with me being there since i tried to stop the whole thing. not to sound conceded but a lot of people wouldnt have gotten shot trying to stop a crazy person.
3. i personally could not. if i helped in the deaths of innocent people (even if i didnt actually kill them) i would literally have nightmares for the rest of my life. i would try all i could to help the families of the victims to relieve some of the pain but i would never forgive myself completely.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

I feel as though Valerie is an accessory to the murders. She helped put the thought into the boyfriends head and really did everything but pull the trigger. If she had just said "oh i hate so and so" that'd be a different case, but she actually made a list. The fact that she made a list makes her very guilty and should make her feel very bad. If she didnt want those students to die she shouldnt have made the list.

tyler k 13-14 said...

I feel that the guilt is just as much hers as it is her boyfriend's. If you are willing to wish death upon someone, its just as bad as committing the act of murder.

Dana G. 13-14 said...

3. Do you think you can ever fully recover when something that tragic happens to you?

I would feel guilty. I would not be able to live the same way after knowing that I was part of the reason that innocent people were murdered.

Emily C. 13-14 said...

2. I think it would be so hard coming to sxhool after the shooting because I would have to see where it happened everyday and i would feel that everyone blames me and would want to avoid me so i would feel so much alone.

Kyle P. 13-14 said...

2. I dont think i would be able to go back to school after something like that. i would definitely go to a new school or something.

3. I think they can get over it but it would most likely change the way you live your life.

Megan D. 11-12 said...

It is not really Val's fault that her boyfriend killed those people. While writing a list of people you hate is not exactly health, most people do write things like that or indulge in fantasies about things that they would say or do to people they dislike. That, however, is completely different from carrying through with those idle muses. I believe Val is responsible, however, for not realizing something was wrong with her boyfriend before he started shooting. If you are that close to someone you should be able to tell if something is bothering them or if they are upset enough to consider murder.

Looking at question two, I would obviously feel an unhealthy mix of anxiety, guilt, and fear upon returning to school after going through such an experience. Despite the fact that I tried to stop him, I would still feel the weight of the lives that had been lost because I did not notice Nick's pain. It would be a very uncomfortable until I managed to come to terms with the event completely.

Greg P. 13-14 said...

Do you think you can ever fully recover when something that tragic happens to you?

This depends on the tragedy and on the person. I could not say I could fully recover or not unless I knew what the tragedy was. What I can say, however, is that moving on on trying to make the best of things would be the route I would attempt to take.

Mike B 13-14 said...

I dont think you ever fully recover from somthing tragic happening to you like this. You may be able to move on and continue your life but the tragedy will still effect you daily. You can never forget somthing like this happening to you but you have to try to make the best out of your life and live it to the fullest.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

Thread graded, closed