The Hate List was written by Jennifer Brown and was published by Little Brown and company in September 2009. In the story The Hate List, Valerie Leftman and Nick Levil are two inseparable teens that so just so happen to find common ground at Garvin High School. They both are bullied on a constant basis so they immediately gravitate towards each other for comfort. As they navigate through the strange world called high school, they realize that they simply don’t fit in where they are. They start to talk about death and ways they would kill their classmates for fun after several incidents that had happened at the school. Valerie comes up with the idea of writing down a list of people they hate every time they have a problem with someone to “let off some steam.” She does not realize that Nick is thinking about using the list in a harmful way. When Nick reaches his breaking point, he decided to take a gun to school and kill the people who has given him and Valerie a hard time. During the shooting, Valerie ends up getting shot by jumping in front of a girl who was on the list to protect her from Nick. After waking up in the hospital, she realizes that Nick is dead and what has transpired from what was supposed to be a harmless list. She has a battle with herself to determine if she is a hero or a villain within the story. She must adjust to life after the shooting and figure out how to live life as normal as possible. Some common themes and motifs that are within the story is villain vs. hero, bravery, bullying, and forgiveness.
The text Interpreting Young Adult Literature: Literary Theory in the Secondary Classroom by John Noel More, discusses several literary theories that can be applied to young adult lit. Archetypal theory can be applied to several themes within The Hate List. This theory uses myths which tell stories that have “specialized social functions in a culture” (Moore 34). When dealing with stories that are within a school, there are several archetypes such as the jock or the cheerleader. In the story both Valerie and Nick fall into the archetype category of the “unpopular crowd” at their high school. They don’t hang with those who are considered to be the “in crowd” and are constantly bullied which makes them outcast. As the story continues Valerie and Nick go down a downward spiral and eventually react to their environment. There is a scene within the story when Valerie and Nick go to the movies to simply have a good time. When they arrive, they have an encounter with a popular kid named Chris Summers in which he pours a soda on Nick’s car. Valerie can see what this has done to Nick and tries to console him but it does not work. Nick at this point has reached his breaking point and wants to do something about it. When Nick brings a gun to school, Valerie makes the decision to save an individual on the list by taking a bullet for them. After waking up in the hospital and realizing that Nick is dead, Valerie is forced to face the decision that she has made to create the list and deal with the consequences. We see the theme villain vs. hero when Valerie has to decide which category does she fall into. She is scared to face the situation alone but realizes that in order to get to a peaceful place, she must accept the things that she can’t change and embrace people who are trying to help her. The reader will be able to see her journey as she deals with the aftermath of the shooting and see her reenter into her school environment with a different mindset. Within the archetype theory, we see the character develop and eventually go on a “quest” to accomplish her goal of taking responsibility and forgiving herself for the events that have happened .
Other books written by Jennifer Brown:
8.Middle Grade Fiction
9.How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me From Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel
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