Synopses & Reviews
Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunninghams junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties—friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is—are shaken or cast off altogether. Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddys guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent—the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove. Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer, Mister Deaths Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.
"When Val and her boyfriend Nick write the names of the people who torment or annoy them in a notebook dubbed the 'Hate List,' she has no idea that Nick will use it as a checklist the day he brings a gun to school, killing several people, including himself, and wounding many more. Brown's riveting debut initially cuts between the day of the shooting in May and the following September when school begins again, then focuses on the aftermath of the shooting and the rest of Val's senior year; newspaper clips are interspersed throughout. Val's guilt is explored in realistic scenes with a therapist; she helped write the list ('[it] started as a joke. A way to vent frustration') but also stopped the shooting by taking a bullet for popular student Jessica, now Val's staunchest defender. Val's complicated relationship with her family, Jessica and the surviving victims, as well as how she comes to terms with Nick's betrayal, are piercingly real, and the shooting scenes wrenching. Her successes are hard-won and her setbacks, such as her father's inability to forgive her, painfully true to life. Ages 15 up. (Sept.) Several series grow with new picture books this fall." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[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
A Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2012 * "An engrossing exploration of how a murder affects a community."—Kirkus Reviews,
starred review "This is a thinking-teen's mystery."—Bulletin
"Hahn emphasizes the universality of growing up and facing death."—Horn Book
* "This wrenching novel offers an aggregate portrait of the effects of loss and grief, including both the strengthening and dissolution of relationships."—Publishers Weekly,
starred review "This creepy tale slowly and craftily builds tension . . . It has the added feature of offering a unique snapshot of life in the 1950's."—School Library Journal
"The veracity of this tragedy raises the stakes for readers who are already fans of Hahn's supernatural fiction, and the coming-of-age component of Nora's shattered naïveté is all the more searing."—Bulletin
"Roskos has created a character that does not necessarily change throughout the book, but learns to live with himself as he is, to celebrate himself and those around him even as flawed as they are."
—VOYA, 4Q 3P S
"Self-deprecating humor abounds in this debut novel that pulls no punches about the experience of depression and anxiety for its teen protagonist . . . Captivating introspection from a winning character."
—Kirkus, starred review
"Author Roskos's strength lies in his refusal to tidy up the mess in James's life and in his relentless honesty about surviving with depression and anxiety."
"Roskos effectively sketches James as a boy who is far more comfortable inside his own head than in connecting with others . . . Bravely facing real sorrow, James confronts his problems with grace and courage."
"Roskos' first novel is rich with hilarity and realistic inner dialogue . . . Give this darkly funny debut to fans of Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
"Roskos perfectly captures the voice of a teen."
—School Library Journal
"Many teen readers will recognize their own mood swings as they are amplified through James' pendulum, and they'll be enlightened by his revelation that life can be possible and rewarding even when it's really hard."
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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.
After Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opens fire on their school cafeteria, Val is shot trying to stop him, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. Now, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.
This fictional re-creation of a crime that happened in Mary Downing Hahn's Maryland hometown in 1955—the murder of two teenage girls—is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. Told from several perspectives, including that of the murderer, this latest work from the award-winning and best-selling author is sure to captivate readers.
A teenager's attempt to save himself by writing poems, hugging trees, and figuring out what it takes to be a good brother. James experiences the highs and lows of teenage depression while he tries to figure out how its possible to survive, even when parents and teachers do everything they can to make a kid feel crazy.
2014 Morris Award finalist
“I hate myself but I love Walt Whitman, the kook. Always positive. I need to be more positive, so I wake myself up every morning with a song of myself.” Sixteen-year-old James Whitman has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. Jamess painful struggle with anxiety and depression—along with his ongoing quest to understand what led to his self-destructive sisters exile—make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant.
About the Author
Jennifer Brown writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area with her husband and three children. When not writing about serious subjects, Jennifer, a two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award, is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Hate List is her debut novel.