I'm so excited today to be hosting Jennifer Brown, debut author of Hate List. I read this novel during a family road trip and upon turning the last page, handed it directly to my teenage daughter in the back seat. "You have to read this one, now," I said. Hate List is an important story, but also a completely gripping read. I hope teens, parents, and especially teachers find this book.
Jennifer shares one of her junior high stories (what is with these school administrators?!?):
Way back in 7th grade (you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we had Fire Making 101 in the back of a one-cave school house?), our school decided to do this strange survey that, to this day, I still don't know if I understand what the purpose was. Basically, what it amounted to was our homeroom teacher pulling us out of the classroom one-by-one and asking us one question: "What is the one thing you would change about yourself?"
Really, I had no idea! I'd never assessed myself that closely up to that point, and I was way into being 13 and cool, so I sure wasn't going to spend a lot of time out in the hallway pouring out my heart to my extremely O-L-D (probably in her '30s) and distinctly uncool teacher about my insecurities. So I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: "My nose."
Even I was kind of surprised to hear myself say it aloud. I mean, I was overweight. Had limp hair. Acne. Bad clothes. Not to mention I could've gone the humble way and answered, I don't know, "Develop more patience," or "Be more caring," or "Be a better person" or something like that. But I chose... my nose.
And that's when it first occurred to me that I was sensitive about my nose. I found it too large for my face. Kind of fat. It was constantly sunburned and in various states of peeling. And it had a perpetual horizontal line across the top of it. I thought it turned up too much, and to this day I, out of habit, push down on the end of my nose when I'm deep in thought to keep it from "pugging."
Then, in high school, someone told me, "You have your dad's nose," and I was highly offended. My nose insecurities ratcheted up about 1,000% after that... until I took a good look at my dad's nose and realized... my dad has a perfectly fine nose! There's nothing wrong with his nose. I have never found myself thinking that his nose was anything other than ordinary and nose-like. And, just like that, my nose issues began to take a back seat to other problems.
Nowadays I'm totally cool with my nose, and somewhat amused that I was ever not cool with it. It's not perfect -- much like the rest of me! -- but it's mine and I'm happy with it!
About Hate List
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things they hated. The list her boyfriend 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. Buy your own copy on Amazon!
About Jennifer Brown
Jennifer Brown is the author of Hate List, a YA novel coming out in September 2009. As a two-time winner of The Erma Bombeck Global Humor award and weekly columnist for The Kansas City Star, as well as Saturday Featured Blogger for Mom2MomKC.com, Jennifer spends a lot of time dressing up her dog for laughs and thinking of new ways to works words such as "Puh-lease" and "Ch-yeah!" into sentences. Jennifer grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri area, where she still lives with her husband, three kids, and whole herd of uncooperative pets. Read more about Jennifer at http://jenniferbrownYA.com.