Book Review: Juniors

Posted September 21, 2015 by Kara in book review, Kara / 0 Comments

Book Review: JuniorsJuniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Genres: young adult, contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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five-stars

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.

Relationships amongst girls can be a very tricky thing. Girls are very fragile, finicky, interesting creatures. Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings takes on those issues and makes them realistic and understanding. The characters in this book are flawed. All of them. But they are full, they are real, and they are easy to love and/or relate to. Okay, well, not all of them, but the ones that matter are.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Kaui. Her writing is excellent. She writes characters better than anybody I know. They jump off the page, they have backgrounds, interests, different voices, personalities, flaws, vices, strengths, and it is apparent that they are some of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I don’t really even like character-driven novels. But this book is in another realm. The Descendants was in another realm. I still need to read the other book that cane out recently, but two of them so far have been mega hits with me. I am going to read The Possibilities asap.

There is a romance, but I don’t believe it’s the focal point of the story. It’s an interesting one though, because it’s more of a not-romance than a romance. You’ll see what I mean when you read this. Instead, the story  focuses on the friendship between Whitney and Lea (pronounced lei-uh not lee-uh), and how they navigate the difficulties of getting to know each other and staying loyal to each other throughout life at Punahou School and in Hawaii in general.

There are Hawaiian characters (Danny), white characters (Whitney and Will), and our protagonist, who is both. Reading about them and how they interacted with the setting around them, which featured surfing, Shangri La, jumping off a famous rock, going to Punahou School, and so much more. The author really knows how to bring the atmosphere to life through her imagery.

The plot is a simple one, and sometimes it’s not even apparent because it’s not the focal point of the book. The characters drive the story and you just go along with it because it flows brilliantly. Some might find it too basic, but I loved the fact that we focused more on friendships and familial love than romance. That is RARE in young adult, and I am so glad I was able to review this book for Great Imaginations. I’ve given very few books 5 stars this year (I’m getting pickier by the day), but this is one of them. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

Kara Sig Plant

 

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