The list was my idea.
I didn't mean for anyone to die.
Will you ever forgive me?
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Val was as shocked as everyone else -- but, despite her own serious injury, she's implicated in the crime because of the list. The list she and Nick made of people of they hated. The list Nick 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 boy she loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, her 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.
Print copy, 405 pages
Published: 2009/2010 by Little, Brown and Company
This book would normally not be my cup of tea. Boyfriend? Realistic fiction? School shooting? But, I'd heard some good things about it, and my sister had bought a copy for an English project, and I thought, what the hey?
I'm glad I did. This book seemed foremost to be memories and the aftermath of the shooting. Valerie, the main character, reflects on her memories of that day and tries to understand how she missed the clues. About how she could've missed that her boyfriend was crazy enough to do that. She can't help but see Nick as two people - the sweet, Shakespeare-loving boy she'd fallen in love with, and the killer he'd been on that day.
What I loved most about Valerie was that she didn't focus 24/7 on Nick. She was strong enough to accept help from her therapist. She did her best to focus on what was truly going on around her, instead of her paranoid delusion that everyone hated her for this shooting. She seemed a little selfish at times, but I couldn't blame her for it.
Her family... I don't know where to begin. Her father hates her. Her mother alternates between blaming her for the shooting and thinking of her as a victim. Her little brother accepts her for the most part. Actually, I'd love to have a brother as cool as Frankie - these two siblings don't fight like some do. They have a decent relationship.
Her former friends were pretty rotten in Valerie's eyes. They ditched her because she ditched them, and it's a mess. Her new friends, including the popular girl who'd bullied her before Valerie saved her life, seemed kind of cautious of her, and she didn't really want much to do with them to protect herself from more bullying.
As I said, Valerie was pretty selfish at times. She was quite focused around her own little messed up world. But I couldn't blame her, because she was written in a decent light. This novel didn't really catch my spark, but I liked it all the same.
But overall, Valerie was a good character. She felt horrible about her indirect part in this shooting, but she grows, she changes as the novel progresses. The pacing is pretty good and the plot felt a tiny bit slack (as I said, it spent most of the time in flashbacks), but I enjoyed reading this novel all the same. I give it a four exactly.