I've been watching the reviews float around the blogosphere for this one and it's definitely getting a lot of positive press. Jennifer Brown has taken an incredibly serious and tragic subject and transformed it into story based on a girl very involved in a horrific crime and though I don't totally "buy" the way the story turned out, it made for a pretty good read.
"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."
The reader is given a unique perspective on the topic of school shootings - from someone who essentially helped to plan a school shooting, without really helping to plan it at all. Valerie was a depressing character, but with good reason and though I wasn't overly engaged in the first half of the book (I thought it a bit too long), as Valerie started to heal, it became more interesting.
I wasn't sure what to think about the main character becoming friends with some of the kids that terrorized her and actually returning to school. Part of me thought that it was totally crazy and would never happen, the other half liked reading about the process, in order to see what actually would happen if a child made a decision to return to school after a tragedy such as this.
Teens will enjoy this book and it would make for a nice discussion starting point on how we deal with tragedy, as well as the topic of hate lists. I liked the cover design too - very cool!
To learn more, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.
Little, Brown Young Readers