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Wearing skirts she's made out of Mylar balloons or potato sacks, shirts she's sewed out of torn umbrellas or her absentee dad's abandoned clothing, narrator Kristi marches to her alternative high school, prepared to take on a world that hates her-she's pretty sure of it, given that she can read minds. Ryan, far outstripping the level of plotting and characterizations in her debut, Shadow Falls, turns in an exceptional second novel. Although Kristi is hostile to her mother, classmates and teachers, and genuinely nasty to total strangers, she makes herself vulnerable to readers. She is also consistently funny in a cynical, teenage way: "I live in a suburb of a suburb. I'm surrounded by the offspring of professional people who attend parent-teacher meetings and volunteer on Election Day." Events cast doubt Kristi's mind-reading skills, but given the author's solid portraiture, readers will nevertheless want to trust Kristi, even before she learns to trust herself. Ryan works in both a romance and a divorce, and reverses Kristi's instinctive satirizing of people who care about her-and does it all with an abundance of wit. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.