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.
From School Library JournalStarred Review. Grade 8 Up—At the end of their junior year, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend pulls a gun in the Commons, leaving six students and a teacher dead and many others wounded. Valerie is hit by a bullet in the leg trying to stop him, just before he ends his own life. Until that point, Valerie had no idea that the «hate list» that she and Nick created would be used to target victims in a vengeful shooting spree. For her, the list of tormentors was a way to ease the pain of being bullied and an outlet against the constant fighting between her parents. Although the police investigation reveals that Valerie had nothing to do with the actual shootings, many people in her community, including her parents, have a hard time believing that she is not at fault, too. With the help of a patient and insightful therapist, Valerie bravely returns to school after the summer to face the challenges before her. Told by Valerie in then-and-now chapters, with a few «excerpts» from local newspaper articles added for perspective, this is a startling, powerful, and poignant account of the incidents leading up to, immediately following, and continuing through the teen’s senior year of realization and recovery. Valerie is stronger than she knows—a beautifully drawn character who has suffered pain, guilt, and incredible stress as she heals from the shooting, the loss of a troubled boyfriend she deeply loved, and difficult family circumstances. Readers drawn to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (Razorbill, 2007) and Brooke Taylor’s Undone (Walker, 2008) will snap this novel up as well.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO END
Review“[A] riveting debut.” (starred review) (Publishers Weekly )
“Startling, powerful, and poignant.” (starred review) (School Library Journal )
«This novel ought to be the last written about a fictional high school shooting because it is difficult to imagine any capable of handling it better . .. A story that is as sensitive and honest as it is spellbinding.» (starred review) (VOYA )
«Authentic and relevant, this debut is one to top the charts.» (Kirkus Reviews )