Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Title: Juniors
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: September 22nd, 2015
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. 

Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the prominent West family’s guest cottage. 

Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes. As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she's willing to change in order to fit into their world. 

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

Lea Lane doesn't quite fit in.  She followed her actress mother to Hawaii during her junior year of high school, where everyone already knows everyone else.  The only attention she seems to get is from the West family, who invite Lea and her mother to stay in their guest house during her latest project, a popular upcoming drama that the entire island seems to be buzzing about.  Once she steps into this new territory, there's no going back.  Over the next few months, secrets begin to unravel and surprising bonds are made.  Not everyone is what they seem, but some definitely are.

The setting for Juniors is beautiful. I believe this may be the first book I've read which is set in Hawaii, but I thought that the author did a great job bringing readers into the tropical climate, relaxing space and ultimate vacation destination.  Though I've never been to Hawaii, I could imagine every part of the island that Lea wandered.  This book gives you just the right summer feelings.

Friendship is the most important part of the story and it's done well, because each character had their flaws, although some weren't as obvious as others.  As Lea got to know Will and Whitney as friends, she realizes that they're more alike than anyone could have guessed.  The Wests come from a wealthy family, and it's no secret that Lea and her mother have significantly less.  While they've never struggled or gone without anything they need, they don't exactly own a beach side mansion, either.

Throughout the book, we see Lea blossom.  Although she was a little hesitant to get close to Whitney, they end up with a true friendship that could last a lifetime.  There are a lot of feelings in this book, from self doubt, judgement, and the value of others to love, excitement, and true happiness.  Juniors is a great beachy read for summer or just for when you want to get away from the chill of those colder months.

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