It was, indeed, a very personal read. I myself suffered bullying and I know exactly how it feels. I know exactly how it hurts. I know exactly how my mind started being a real, serious mess after everything I had to go through. Children are cruel. People are cruel. And nobody ever cares. And, you know? Doing nothing is also a way of not caring, is a way of being part of it.
When I was nine, I suffered the worst. I had epilepsy right back then (I had it from 7 to 11 and I got my official discharge when I was 17) and I was in treatment. Everything was going fine with it. But my life was spiraling down and down and down the bottom pit. I was not only unhappy but depressed. The kids at school just mistreated me in every posible way, mental and physically. One day, one of my classmates dragged me into the bathroom just to hit me. I did nothing at first, fearing I'd be expulsed. I just try to defend myself, poorly. Other 7 girls were watching what happened. Nobody called anyone to help. I ended up crying, with a black eye, and went to talk to my teacher. What she said? "I don't get involved in that kind of stuff". That, along with the angered and full of despise look she gave me, was enough to confirm she somehow hated me. Things got worse with each day that went by and I was tearing apart. I spent the breaks alone, just hoping it'd end soon. I cried everyday and I didn't want to go to school anymore (and I was a kid that loved school before). Epilepsy seizures came back every night, during my sleep. I was -not- okay, in any way. I asked myself why did I deserve that, never finding the answer. I was the new girl. Almost from the first day of classes, I've been bullied. Why? I will never, ever know.
Thing is, kids are cruel. They know what they do it's wrong, they know it hurts. They do it anyway, because that's the point. Making someone feel bad, making them feel the ache. They enjoy the hurting process, somehow. And adults are worse, because many of them just let them do it. They do nothing and show no support to the one that's breaking one piece at a time. And you know what's the worst of all? These things mark you. I've got those insults and everything carved up in my mind. And it still hurts, even though I know those a*holes were just that, a*holes that don't deserve my tears. But, yet so, the scars are still there and they sometimes bleed. And those scars made me what I am today. No, time doesn't heal them, not at all. I grew up and all I got to know is that I was an ugly, annoying bitch. That I didn't deserve anyone's friendship. That I was the bad one. That I was an awful person. A part of me still believes that. How wouldn't I? I heard those words over and over again since I was a child until I was almost 18. It was like a song in endless repeat, playing over and over again, hurting, hurting deeper each time that played. Till I get used to it. Till I accepted it. And it was like I couldn't feel a thing, like I was indifferent. But, inside, I was completely broken and messed up.
That is why I related to Valerie. That is why I know how she felt. She wrote a hate list to cope and bear with the pain. It was her way of doing so and we all certainly have different ways of getting over something that affects us. But then everything went out of control and she found herself involved in the killing spree her boyfriend did. And what did people do? Blame her, without taking the time to know her at least a bit. She was responsible of those deaths just because she wrote names and things on a list, the Hate List. That's it. She was the enemy. She was no victim at all. Truth is, she was one of the first victims, long before the shooting.
But it seemed nobody could see that. Nobody cared about that. They needed a responsible, one that was alive. One they could blame as much as they needed. Valerie will need to go through a difficult process of healing and adapting to her reality, even when her own family is against her. Her father can't trust her and believes she needs to be hospitalized for a good while. He believes it's Valerie's fault. He believes she's the reason of everything going wrong in their family. Her mother doesn't trust her either, but as the story goes by she learns things about Valerie that will make her change her attitude towards her daughter. Her brother, after siding with her, will stick to his father's opinion.
In a sum up, I did enjoy this book. The writing is good and the story is too, except some things that may be a bit unrealistic. I'd recommend it just for those who can bear with a dramatic story without a clear happy ending but an open one. The ending is just the start of Valerie taking control of her life once again. Being herself, without fearing it. I'd recommend this book just to those who are willing to set aside early judgments and open to analyze their own reality.