Friday, December 31, 2010

Enchanting Review: Hate List

YA contemporary
Little, Brown
ISBN# 9780316041454
408 pages
Paperback available now

Rating: 5 Enchantments

Valerie Leftman didn’t mean for anyone to die. Her hate list was her way of venting back at those who bullied her. Her boyfriend Nick though had other plans. Five months ago, Nick opened fire at their high school killing and wounding people. Valerie never thought he’d actually use the hate list. In her attempt to stop him, she’s shot in the leg protecting one of those she hated.

Now the town can’t make out if Valerie is a villain or hero. She decides to go back to school to confront those who did survive. Valerie must come to terms on what happened that tragic day in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Wow. One image kept coming to me when I read Valerie’s tale. My sister’s funeral. Her ex boyfriend murdered her then turned the gun on himself. At the funeral the father of the guy who killed my sister showed up. I was furious. How dare he? But my mother taught me a lesson. She told me the father didn’t pull the trigger and that he was hurting too as he lost a son. That same feeling came back to me when reading HATE LIST. Valerie’s emotions and struggles are shown in such an intense and powerful way. Also she shows us the Nick she loved so he’s not such a monster. That’s one thing I love about this story. It would be so easy to just dwell on the graphic horror of the shooting and show Nick as a crazy monster. Instead the author gives us characters that are fleshed out and have us care.

The writing is powerful and gripping. Life isn’t all roses when Val shows back up at school. Her own family has issues too with her part of the tragedy like her father who believes she’s at fault too. There are others like the girl Valerie saved who go out of her way to be friends though others around her ridicule and just hope Val disappears. The ending of this book had me in tears when Val and her friend go to all those who were affected by the shooting. Haunting and riveting, this is one tale that really stays with you.

Jennifer Brown writes and lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband and three children. She’s also a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Read more about her at

Kim Baccellia
December 2010

Enchanting Review: Med Head

YA Non-fiction
Little, Brown
ISBN# 9780316076173
302 pages
Paperback available now

5 Enchantments

Corey Friedman is an ordinary teenager with issues that take all his strength and courage to overcome. This is an account of his thirteen year journey dealing with OCD, anxiety, and Tourette’s symptom.

Wow. Reading Corey’s story amazes me. What he went through as a child with the daily ridicule of his peers and then the pure hell of a life time of different drugs, totally is awe inspiring. My own son deals with sensory issues and I’ve dealt with a school system that wasn’t supportive. I can’t even imagine what Corey’s parents went through. What is really inspiring is Corey’s voice. His descriptions of the meds that caused serious issues are so real. I felt for him when this one so-called expert in the field of Tourette’s, ends up just viewing Corey as a test subject even when the one drug she prescribes to him causes him to want to end his life.

Corey also shows the reader what it’s like to basically be a guinea pig to a wide assortment of meds. His OCD and Tourette’s were very extreme. One way Corey dealt with the pain was self-medicating with alcohol. But this book doesn’t just dwell on the negative. It shows Corey’s successes and triumphs. My favorite part is when Corey shows this one school founder that he will make it out in the real world. And he does with determination and persistence.

The story is haunting and Corey’s personal journey through years of medical turmoil will stay with you. At the conclusion are notes from Corey’s parents, personal photos, and also info on OCD and Tourette’s.

James Patterson is the author of Maximum Ride novels, Witch & Wizard, and a number of other books. He lives in Florida.

Hal Friedman has published five works of fiction. He lives with his wife, Sophia, at the edge of a forest in northern New Jersey.

Kim Baccellia
November 2010