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Haters    by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez order for
by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

At first Haters reads like the usual contemporary YA story, albeit with a particularly engaging style. Sixteen-year-old Pasquala Rumalda Quintana de Archuleta (Paski) who's been raised by her cartoonist father in Taos (her mother left them when she was ten) - and has two best friends there as well as a new boyfriend - is told by her dad (who returns from a trip with a new image and laser-whitened teeth, looking 'like an idiot') that they're moving to Southern California.

What makes this tale different is, first, Paski's amusing take on her artistic and rather wacky dad and, second, her psychic abilities which she inherits from her spiritualist grandmother (who begs her to honor her vision and gifts and warns of danger ahead). Paski is a good student and a strong athlete, who regularly trains on her mountain bike. She and her friends are amongst the most popular kids at Taos High School. But that changes at Aliso Niguel High School, where she's looked down on as an apartment girl by the in-crowd (whom Paski's new neighbors call the haters) led by beautiful but vindictive Jessica Nguyen.

Paski befriends other outsiders at school. And, dreaming repeatedly of Jessica - who's a well-known motocross competitor - being involved in a serious accident, she tries to warn her, but to no avail. Jessica is infuriated when her once boyfriend, Chris Cabrera, falls hard for Paski, and organizes a vicious attack on her. Even after she's injured herself, Jessica continues her campaign against Paski, who ends up with some big decisions to make - with lives on the line.

In Haters, I especially enjoyed the humor in Paski's relationship with her dad - especially when he tries to tell her about the birds and the bees - as well as our heroine's honesty and vulnerability (as when she tells us that 'inside every deep, psychic girl, I would bet you there's a shallow moron just waiting to come out'), and her spiritual connection to nature. You'll enjoy this one, don't miss it!

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