Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman [spoiler-free review]


 

Title: Honey Girl
Author: Lisa Freeman
Paperback: 288 pages
Publication Date: March 17th 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+
Rating: star icon star icon star iconstar icon

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I was sent this book from the publicist for an honest review. This does not change my opinions of the book in any way.

Set in the summer of 1972 in California, we follow 15 year old, Nani who is dealing with the loss of her father, discovering herself and trying to fit in with the honey girls on the beach. This story was very unique because it’s about a Hawaiian girl living in 1972 when girls were not allowed to surf and being gay wasn’t accepted. We see scenes of how you were treated if you were gay and it saddened me. There is a scene where a gay man is beat up and screamed at for being gay. It was fascinating to learn about how different it was then vs now.

Nani is a complex character who is dealing with her mother, now a widow and living somewhere that isn’t Hawaii, her home. Throughout the story, Nani is focused on following rules she was taught to abide by to become a honey girl herself. Nani grows a liking to the lead honey girl, Rox and discovers that she likes boys and girls. Nani also gets involved in typical teenage drama with the group of girls they consider their enemies.

However, the story was very slow for me and I didn’t feel that there was much emphasis on Nani having a crush on Rox. This story is full of emotion and grief while Nani is grieving the loss of her father and trying to figure out a way to dump his ashes into the ocean where he belongs. Honey Girl has a lot going on, having me confused at times but I did enjoy the read overall. The writing is easy to read and Lisa Freeman includes Hawaiian slang words which are explained in English plus there is a glossary of some of the words in the back of the book. It was fun to learn some Hawaiian words, it was very different!

Historical fiction is not a genre I normally read therefore I cannot comment on the way Freeman executed it. But, it did feel like I was in the time period and setting in California. Freeman also includes mentioning of Nani’s father’s routine of  planting marijuana before his passing.

I do believe that this is a great summer read for young readers because of Nani as a character and discovering her sexuality. I will be continuing on with the sequel, Riptide Summer. A link to my review will be posted here when it is live.