Confessions of a Hater

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
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Frank, clever, mean-girl tale has mature content.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some exposure to high school life, teen rituals and concerns, social media, and comic illustrations (on the cover and on each chapter title page).

Positive Messages

Confessions of a Hater offers strong positive messages about treating others fairly, even when they've treated you poorly. It underscores the idea that self-esteem is not a zero-sum game -- you don't need to make others feel bad to feel good about yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many characters are well developed and realistically flawed. Adults are often busy or absent but concerned and caring when present. Some stereotypes exist, such as the studious Asian, whereas others, such as the ignorant pregnant teen, are challenged. In cases where characters are overwhelmingly negative or positive, they still exhibit self-awareness or critical thinking outside their types.   


No physical violence, but sustained bullying and pranks, such as filling a locker with fish guts or other actions meant to embarrass or harm reputations.


There's flirting, and a boy and a girl kiss a handful of times. Two teens "fool around" in a car (kissing and groping), and a girl attempts to perform oral sex on a boy. 


Fairly consistent cursing ("s--t," "hell," "b---h," "what the f--k"), both casually and when characters are angry. Insults and put-downs about weight, appearance, style, and socioeconomic background are commonplace.


Marc Jacobs, J Brand jeans, Repetto shoes, and other upscale brands are mentioned throughout, in addition to girls being mocked for wearing last-season or discounted items.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some underage drinking without consequences. In one scene, a teen girl is described as being "wasted" at a party. In another, teens chip in on a booze supply for a party, but there's mention of self-imposed rules to cut off anyone who seems to have overindulged. A teen abuses a legally obtained prescription for Adderall by snorting it, with eventual consequences: hospitalization and parental involvement. A few jokes about and references to marijuana smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Confessions of a Hater is a portrait of high school life told from a misfit perspective that depicts bullying, profanity, sexual experimentation (kissing, groping, an attempt at oral sex), cheating, divorce, teen drinking, drug use, and other assorted illegal activities as commonplace, even blasé. However, the narrator is an intelligent, analytical teen girl who exhibits high self-awareness, ultimately framing these so-called rites of passage thoughtfully, with an understanding of the inherent risks and consequences.

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What's the story?

Hailey Harper's sudden transfer to West Hollywood High is terrifying, but it gives this self-proclaimed dork a chance to reinvent herself, thanks to the discovery of college-age sister Noel's dusty old diary, which doubles as a bible on how to be a \"hater.\" Armed with ruthlessness, Hailey takes on a new school, and a new popular crowd, but as she navigates the shark-infested waters of high school life, she learns a thing or two about what it means to beat someone at their own game.

Is it any good?

Calling all misfits and outcasts: CONFESSIONS OF A HATER is a dream for anyone who wished she'd had a secret handbook to transform from a nobody to a somebody. Only to walk away, of course, when she realized the cool crowd wasn't really that cool -- and then go start her own cool crowd. Though the premise is a bit of a stretch, the dilemmas and concerns here are as old as time -- or, at least, as old as the invention of the teenager -- and this book confronts them all: the cliques, the popularity contests, the embarrassments, the struggles with identity, and the endless battles over appearance. It's all told in a really funny insider voice that seems to get it. 

Parents, however, may take issue: There's a very mature voice here, one that cusses up a storm, casually breaks the rules (and a handful of laws), experiments with (oral) sex and alcohol use. To say nothing of characters dotted throughout who joke about weed or shoplift clothes. There's a teen pregnancy that nearly undoes a girl, and another who will come undone over her affection for snorting Adderall. That said, the narrator's self awareness, intelligence, compassion, and desire to be a good person frames this foray, and the lessons she learns about the price of revenge are poignant. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cliques. Are you in a clique at your school? What's it like? How do these cliques interact?

  • Why are books about navigating the high school social hierarchy so popular? What others have you read? How does this one compare?

  • Confessions of a Hater presents casual profanity, drug use, and divorce as fairly run-of-the-mill parts of modern teen life. Does this seem exaggerated for entertainment value, or is it an accurate portrait of the teen experience?

Book details

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For kids who love coming-of-age and high school stories

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