Book Review: Honey Girl by: Lisa Freeman

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Publication Date: March 17, 2015

Origins:  From Publicist for Review

Synopsis: 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.

Review: HONEY GIRL is set in the 1970s California beach scene. Nani Nuuhiwa is 15 and has just moved to Santa Monica from Hawai’i with her white mother after her Hawaiian father passed away from a sudden heart attack. Desperately missing her father, afraid of losing her culture, and wanting to fit into the new surf culture of State Beach, Nani is struggling to find her identity. Nani must strictly follow ‘The Rules’ in order to make it into the lineup of the elite girls of State Beach. Nani attracts the attentions and affections of the surf god, Nigel, and the leader of the girl’s lineup, Rox. However, both relationships have their complications as Nani tries to navigate her new roles in life. HONEY GIRL is a beautiful coming of age story with a cast of complex characters and social strata. I felt like Nani is a typical 15 year old, trying to maneuver in a brand new world and figure herself out at the same time. I felt a kinship with Nani and perhaps it’s because while my life challenges weren’t the same as hers, the quest to discover our true selves was similar. HONEY GIRL transcends time and gets to the heart of what it means to grow up. P.S. - Ladies, if you ever get to visit Fiji, I hope you enjoy every moment!

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