Kaui Hart Hemmings - JuniorsPublished: September 22, 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books For Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
~This is a bummer. I expected to rate this higher because it's Kaui Hart Hemmings and she wrote The Descendants, which I have not read but I've seen the movie – I'M THAT PERSON I'M SORRY – and it was gorgeous.
Lea and her D-List actress mother aren't new to moving. So when her mother, Ali, announces their latest move into the prominent West guesthouse, who is one of the popular families in Hawaii, Lea is appropriately scandalized. Lea and her mother will now be living in their guest cottage and she will be attending high school with the family's children, Whitney and Will. Much to her chagrin, her mother, pushes her into a friendship with Whitney as Lea doesn't exactly consider herself popular while Whitney and her brother, Will, are affluent.
Slowly – so slowly – a forced friendship between Whitney and Lea blooms. To be honest, I liked Whitney. She was honest. At times, a little snide and crude, but real. Lea? Not so much. She felt like a hanger-on. She and her mother were ungrateful. They complained about their living conditions while living in a gorgeous beach house. Truly the essence of #RichPeopleProblems.
Eventually, Whitney becomes pissy because she believes Lea is “using” her to get to her brother, which many of her friends have previously done and what Lea was also trying to do, despite her denial. Though for a love interest, Will isn't featured too often. We never really heard from him. He didn't have that pop.
Every relationship in this story felt forced. Lea and her mother, Ali. Lea and her best friend, Danny. Lea and Whitney. Lea and Will. Whitney and Will. I can go on for hours. The only character I could singularly tolerate was Whitney and Will's father, Eddie, who was rarely paid attention to, offered the occasional wisdom, and thrown into an armchair while his wife gossiped.
Kaui Hart Hemmings is a native Hawaiian, so I was exceptionally fond of how she introduced Hawaii and their people to us. Though I was peeved by 99.99% of the cast, Kaui's YA debut isn't a total miss.