Haters by Alisa Valdes Rodriguez 2006
Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book group
IQ "He makes me want to experience everything. I stare at the table and hope that my dad can't hear me thinking about Chris. My thoughts are so clear and colorful that I can't imagine anyone not being able to just by looking at me what's in my head." Paksi pg. 247
Pasquala (Paski) Rumalda Quintana de Archuleta is different. Not just because she moved from the calm and steady pace of life in Taos, New Mexico to the busy life of Los Angeles. She's the new girl who has never really liked shopping, dated much and she likes to eat. Padre Loma High School is ruled by the Haters; Jessica Nguyen, Haley Williams and Brianna Sarantopoulos. At her old school, Paksi was part of the popular crew. But Jessica has decided that Paksi is not going to be popular in California and Jessica will do anything to keep Paksi down. The problem is, Paksi has psychic abilities and she keeps having visions of something happening to Jessica. Jessica hates her, so Paksi should just keep quiet, she deserves it right? Wrong.
This was just what I needed since I've been in a back-to-school funk (well I've been in it since school started but it's getting worse). It's not cotton candy light but it didn't make me pause at any revolutionary/extraordinary thoughts. I would like to state however that this book could be a lot shorter. There seemed to be a lot of excess information and while it didn't take away from the plot per se, it wasn't something I needed to know. I found the dialogue to be repetitive and too much TELLING and not enough SHOWING. Furthermore, the author tells you what conclusions she wants you to draw through Paksi or she explains something through her. For example, "'Wow' he [Andrew] says. 'Hi I say. I blush because I can tell he likes what he sees." (pg. 155). I hope I'm not coming off as picky, but I think based on the wow and just hearing that Paksi blushed we could figure out what Andrew meant by 'wow'.
Other than what I listed above, I really enjoyed this novel. I love that the most popular girl in school (head of the Haters) is Vietnamese and that it's a diverse little clique at the top (Brianna is Greek, Haley is bi-racial). In addition to the popular girls, the popular boys vary in cultural backgrounds as well. It was quite refreshing because it's so effortless, the author doesn't overstate the character's ethnicity, but you know their cultural identity. The book moves at a fast and fun pace and what helps it stand apart from standard chick lit is its diversity and Paksi's supernatural abilities. Paksi only wants to be normal so she tries to ignore her visions in the hopes that they will leave her, but that is usually not the case. The question is not whether or not Paksi will act on these visions, but how far will she go to tell the person that is concerned? Perhaps what draws me to Paksi the most is that she is an athlete. She rode on her grandmother's Harley back in Taos but not very often and in this book she learns how to race motocross (which is on a motorcycle so I didn't totally get the difference. But that's what Google is for. haha). She's not afraid to work up sweat whether on her bike or a motorcycles and that's awesome.
Haters avoids being dismissed as mere 'chick lit' (not that there's anything wrong with chick lit!) by having an extra layer of supernatural occurrences and motorcycles. A competitive Latina motocross racer is enough of rarity for me to get excited about reading it. The predictability does not run rampant throughout. There's a lot going on this novel and at times it does seem to be like the author wants to talk about too many different things at once (Taos vs. Los Angeles, Japanese internment camps, motocross, date rape drugs, etc.) but the story has many unique moments to capture (and hold) your attention. The dialogue is realistic of teenagers, although I did want fewer explanations. Paksi is the quintessential teenager; embarrassed by her father (her mother is not around), torn between her desire to fit in and be unique to herself, confused about boys and a strong urge to ride a motorcycle (and do it well). And it doesn't hurt that the book has one of the cutest love interests.
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