I first heard of this book as a movie coming out staring (Delta Goodrem) as Alison Ashley in her debut film role. I thought that Delta's performance was fantastic but I'd never read the book. I'd suggest reading the book first -- not that the film isn't very good but I think the book has a lot more in it that the movie didn't cover due to time constraints etc.
Hating Alison Ashley is a comedy portraying the agonies of being a teenager, school-girl rivalries, constantly embarrassing family and painful and often brutally funny awkwardness and insecurities.
Our heroine is Erica Yurken (Saskia Burmeister), commonly known as "Yuk" or "Erk". The grown-up Erica looks back to 1975, to the time when she was 14 and living in Barringa East with her family. There's Mum, a bingo addict, Mum's boyfriend Lennie, whom Yuk loathes, her older sister Valjoy who is boy-crazy, her younger sister Jedda who is horse-mad and her big brother Harley who's an unemployed drop-kick dope head.
Yuk is forever embarrassed by this ensemble, so escapes into her own private world where she fuels her dreams of being a famous actress. She gets through life with this dream, along with the innate conviction that she is cleverer and more superior to the riff-raff in her class at school, and keeps herself to her aloof self.
Consequently she's shattered when a new girl, Alison Ashley (Delta Goodrem) enrols in the school. Alison has everything Yuk wants: beauty, brains, and her mum drives a BMW. And Yuk instantly loathes her. And Alison is not taken in by Yuk's fantastical stories about her life, made up on the spot to impress her, and this infuriates her even more.
But Alison, it turns out, has a miserable home life, with a mother who ignores her. She is desperately lonely, although she is so self assured and poised she never shows it.
Everything comes to a head on the school camping trip, part of which includes Drama Night. Yuk, the aspiring actress, sees this as the opportunity to begin her glittering career on the stage, so she writes the two best parts for herself and takes on directorial duties as well. However when her turn comes to perform in rehearsal, she's devastated to find herself struck with stage fright. To her chagrin Alison takes over and is brilliant.
Furious and disappointed, Yuk rings home to tell her family not to come to the performance she's been boasting about, but they're already on their way and full of anticipation at seeing Yuk in the staring roles. Too late, Yuk realises she's got too big for her boots. Although she's somewhat cheered to hear a tearful Alison on the phone, begging her reluctant mother to come to the show. To add insult to embarrassment, Yuk realises she's even forgotten to organise the props, but is saved at the eleventh hour by Mum and her despised boyfriend Lennie, who consoles Yuk and cleverly improvises the props she needs.
After the show, Lennie goes one further, calling out "Author! Author!" and getting Yuk a well-deserved curtain call. And Alison presents her with a beautifully bound copy of her plays, making her realise that she has talents as a writer.
For once, Yuk sees beyond her own self-centred world and realises that she's lucky to have the loving family she has, and that Alison is the friend she's always longed for.
A brilliant book and a brilliant film!