Hating Alison Ashley

Robin Klein

Hating Alison Ashley
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Hating Alison Ashley

Robin Klein

Inbetween dealing with her embarrasing family and focusing on her on-screen destiny the arrival of perfect Alison Ashley at Barringa East turns Erica Yurken’s fairytale world around as, from the moment Alison arrives, Erica becomes determined to hate her.

‘Utter loathing and hatred,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t even be on the same bus as you…If I could have caught a virus in time.’

Erica Yurken knew she was destined for great things. Never in any doubt about her own genius, she felt superior to everyone at notorious Barringa East…that is, until Alison Ashley turned up.


Hating Alison Ashley is one of Australian literature’s finest campus novels, and Erica Yurken is surely one of its greatest (and most relatable) heroines. Erica is an aspiring thespian, mild hypochondriac, and teller of tall tales, who is certain she is destined for greater things than Barringa East Primary School. Enter Alison Ashley, the seemingly perfect new student who Erica is sure has been sent to undermine her every move. With the school camp on the horizon, bringing the anticipated play performances that have become school legend, will Erica be able to realise her dream of being the star of the show?

First published in 1984, this classic tale from the legendary Robin Klein is a wonderful account of Australian primary-school life. It is bursting with a cast of unforgettable characters, and tells a timeless story of finding friendship, and working out who you are and what really matters. Some cultural references and turns of phrase might require context for contemporary readers, but this book shines as brightly for me now as it did when I read it (over and over again) in the 1980s, and remains one of my all-time favourite books. For ages 9+.

Alison Huber is the head book buyer at Readings.

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