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Honey Girl

Honey Girl

4.0 1
by Lisa Freeman

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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


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.

Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Where was this book when I was fifteen? Honey Girl is a daring debut. A fierce story of female friendship, earned acceptance, and following the unwritten rules of Southern California beach boy and girl culture in the'70s." —Jamie Lee Curtis

"Teens will marvel at this retro journey into vintage beach culture...[and] ache with Nani's pain and the challenge of being 15 and trying to find one's way." Booklist

"This funny yet gripping page-turner, the first novel by the daughter of Hawaii Five-O creator Leonard Freeman, captivates the reader through Nani's honest, confessional, sassy, and utterly engaging voice…Packed with action, attitude, and empathy, Honey Girl should become a YA classic." Honolulu Star-Advertiser

"Lisa Freeman's debut YA novel is one of those delicious books you want to drink down in one sitting…she creates a world rich with detail and description, dropping you into the complicated social structure of elite surfers and the girls who want them…" —B&N Teen Blog

"…Very Mean Girls. It conveys the nerves and delicate balance of trying to find your place in a new friendship group, all in a very refreshing and unique way." —LGBT YA reviews

"Historical fiction in YA often means gowns, or at the very least flapper dresses, but Freeman's surfer chick novel travels them back to the early '70s, just long enough to detach her characters from texts and e-mails but still have them bombarded with familiar bits of pop culture." —After Ellen.com

"In this emotionally-compelling, relatable new novel, Nani fights to earn her place in the group, but also to understand and come to terms with who she is." Girls Life Magazine

"A time machine that zipped me straight back into Southern California in 1972!…Lisa Freeman tells an authentic, funny, poignant, and touching story with a delicate but subversive feminist touch. Paddle out and hang ten with this gnarly read!" —Mimi Pond, author of Over Easy

"If Jane Austen had been a fifteen-year-old Southern California beach girl living in the 1970s, this is very possibly the novel she would have written. Lisa Freeman catches it all: the baby oil for tanning, the abalone bracelets, the taste of salt on skin. Honey Girl is a bildungsroman and book of etiquette rolled into one, and its subject is one of my favorite cultures: the brother (and sister) hood of surfing." —Jim Krusoe, author of Parsifal

VOYA, April 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 1) - Barbara Allen
A heart attack took her father from her in the blink of an eye, forever changing her life. Nani loses her father and her island in one fell swoop. Her mother forces her to move from Hawaii to Santa Monica, California. Nani must now follow the surf rules set forth by her best friend, Annie, in order to fit in with the locals. Can she hang with the locals or will she crash and burn, forever being an outcast? After weeks of maneuvering, Nani makes her way into “the lineup” and attracts one the most popular surfers. Nani must keep her new position and keep up with the local politics in order to survive her new life. She may also like the girls in the line up more than the surfers. This story casts light on what life on the beach was really like in 1972. Nani must be true to herself, but also fit in with this new group of girls. It is obvious in the way Nani describes the girls that she is more, or equally as, interested in them as the guys. She is trying to find her place in the lineup and figure out who she really is at the same time. There are mentions of drugs and sex. One hinted at lesbian love seen takes place, but nothing more than kissing and cuddling naked happens in the actual text. This book may be too mature for young readers. Overall, this book is a great story about accepting who and what you are despite the curveballs life throws at you. Reviewer: Barbara Allen; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—It's the summer of 1972, and Nani has relocated from Hawaii to Santa Monica, and she has more than her fair share of secrets: she's stolen her father's ashes, she loves to surf, and she likes girls. Following the innumerable rules required to fit in with the surfer girls who rule State Beach and keeping her secrets may be more than she can handle on her own. While prose styling is not often a big deal in young adult titles, the writing in this book is stultifying. Overly detailed descriptions of characters read like enumerated lists of facts rather than providing readers insight into the characters. Cultural references alienate readers instead of adding authenticity. Nani's motivations throughout are opaque, and her actions will be bewildering to contemporary teens. It's never clear why Nani wants to join this exclusionary society of surfers and hangers-on, and without that understanding, readers will also be unclear about the characters' interactions. The protagonist's ability to learn the secrets of the surfer girls is unrealistic, particularly for a book that appears to pride itself on its verity. VERDICT Although it provides some insight into a subculture that is no longer extant, this disjointed book has very little of interest to teens.—L. Lee Butler, Hart Middle School, Washington, DC

Product Details

Sky Pony Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Lisa Freeman started her work as an actor and has been in numerous TV productions and films (Mr. Mom and Back to the Future I & II to name a few). She performed at the Comedy Store, which lead to her writing career in radio and spoken word. Freeman has a BA in liberal studies and Creative Writing, an MFA in Fiction, and a certificate in Pedagogy in Writing from Antioch University. Inspired by the Los Angeles region, Honey Girl was written about a time when girls were the color of tan-before-sunscreen, drank Tabs by the six-pack, smoked Lark 100’s, and were not allowed to surf. Honey Girl is her debut novel.

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Honey Girl 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
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!