STARRED REVIEW
October 2015

Finding a way in Hawaii

By Kaui Hart Hemmings

Two months after moving to Hawaii in the middle of her junior year, Lea Lane still feels like the new girl. For the most part, she’s OK with that, but when her mother announces that they’ll be moving into the wealthy West family’s guest cottage, Lea is mortified. Embarrassed at feeling like a charity case, she’s more determined than ever to keep her head down and fit in.

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Two months after moving to Hawaii in the middle of her junior year, Lea Lane still feels like the new girl. For the most part, she’s OK with that, but when her mother announces that they’ll be moving into the wealthy West family’s guest cottage, Lea is mortified. Embarrassed at feeling like a charity case, she’s more determined than ever to keep her head down and fit in. But soon she can’t help but befriend the West kids. Popular Whitney is a completely different person outside of school, and could it be possible that gorgeous Will is attracted to Lea?

Juniors is Kaui Hart Hemmings’ first foray into young adult fiction, and the acclaimed author of The Descendants proves that she’s up to the challenge. Hemmings fully inhabits her teenage characters in their attempts to navigate high school politics and discover their own individual identities. Confusing relationships, false steps and awkward feelings all ring true to the 17-year-old experience, as do the after-school moments of joy and abandon. The masterfully executed Hawaiian backdrop adds to the book’s charm, imbuing the hyper-realistic story with a hint of fantasy (at least for mainland readers). 

Juniors drags in places, as Lea’s uncertainty becomes monotonous here and there, but overall the novel is a dead-on depiction of the high school social scene told in simple, elegant prose.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Juniors

Juniors

By Kaui Hart Hemmings
Putnam
ISBN 9780399173608

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