Author: Lisa Freeman
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Published: March 17, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Historical Fiction
How to survive California’s hottest surf spot: Never go anywhere without a bathing suit. Never cut your hair. Never let them see you panic.
The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.
Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.
A book rich in teenage drama, Honey Girl was a quick and lighthearted read. The book tells the story of 15 year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa who lives in Hawaii. When her dad passed away, she and her mom moved to Los Angeles, California to start a new life. In California she met a crowd that interests her– the LA surfers crowd and a group of “honey girls”. But of course she has to follow some “rules” and tips in order to belong.
Admittedly, it took me a little while to warm up to the story not because it was boring or something but because I had a problem with the narrative style the author used in this book. I felt disconnected because the narration tends to jump from one subject to another and most of it comes from Nani’s random thoughts (e.g. “In Hawaii, we called them kanaka pupule, but I nicknamed State Beach’s bum Lolo. Which is pidgin for crazy. Back home, pidgin is day-to-day local talk, kind of mix for Creole, English, and Hawaiian.) These random thoughts that just pop up all of a sudden kind of confuse me. However, once I got the writing in the later parts, I finally felt the flow and rhythm of the story.
The protagonist was an interesting character especially because of her fascination with both the boys and the girls. For me she was genuine and real. Her POV was also jovial, however, it has somewhat gone overboard with forced humor. I get that the author aimed to put some sassiness in her character but it was lacking.
I guess the main thing that really bothered me was the side characters. I wish they weren’t too many. Apart from that, these characters are also one-dimensional and there was nothing about them that’s truly remarkable. They flew in and out of the story without even making a difference to Nani. I guess the only character that has some sense to Nani was her mom. I felt the raw emotions from her.
There were little bits of dialogues in this book but for the most parts, it was all just descriptions. I wish to see more interactions with sensible conversations and not just about some nonsense things going on in their lives.
With everything being said, this book was a heart-warming and genuine read. The message was simple and clear. How you value yourself, your family, and your friends is really important. The settings are also beautiful. I love beaches and everything summer so the book definitely made me feel as though I’m having a tropical vacation somewhere.
On the other hand, I loved the “rules” and female mantras. My favorites are:
* Never snag another girl’s boyfriend.
* Start at the bottom if you want perfection.
* Be nice, no matter what.
* Treat people the way you want to be treated.
This book also offered LGBT vibes and I think this is one good diverse read that I can recommend to everyone especially to teenage readers. If you are a die-hard fan of YA contemporaries, then you are bound to like this book. 🙂
(A copy of this book was sent to me by the author Lisa Freeman in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Lisa!)
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