Juniors – Kaui Hart Hemmings | ARC Review

10:09 AM
Pages: 320 Paperback
Publication date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
How I got the copy: Received by Penguin Random House Canada
Rating:  4 out of 5
Series: N/A


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’s mother is a not too famous actress who lands a role on an upcoming drama series set to take place in Hawaii, which moves Lea’s to Hawaii during the middle of her junior year of high school. Lea has no problem with moving away from her friends to Hawaii. She’s been visiting Hawaii with her mother since she can remember. But it’s not until they both move out of their little house to the West’s beach house when things escalade.

When I first read about this and recognized the authors name as the writer of the The Descendants, I knew I had to read it and it delivered. I’m not sure if this is Hemmings first YA novel but it’s the first I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. I love reading Hemmings’ novels set in Hawaii, reading about Hawaiian culture and it being so different from what I know is always refreshing to me. However, in saying that I don’t mean this contemporary is totally different than every contemporary out there.

Juniors follows Lea’s struggle in making friends at Punahou and living in the West’s beach house a few feet away from Whitney and Will, both also attending Punahou and have never met before. Melanie West and Lea’s mother have known each other for ages and have history but when Lea’s mother is casted a role on the new Hawaiian drama Melanie makes sure she’s at an arms length at all times...

I love contemporaries, it’s a genre I have always read/loved and will always read/love but why do these main character almost always have to be weak for the popular guy? I understand why contemporaries focus on weak main women characters developing into stronger character at the end of the book, it’s to teach young readers to be as strong as that but why can’t we have strong main women characters from the beginning and have that as an empowering, role model? I know I love a strong main character that’s a woman because I’m one and I know there are a lot of us out there. It always bothers me why we’re perceived as being weak (This is mostly only a thought I was having while reading the book, not necessary a huge issue of the book).
There’s a personal part in the book between Lea and Whitney where it brings to light that because Whitney is a girl, she’s not encouraged or even an option to take over the family business. She’s automatically categorized as being like her mother, a future wife, a future mother and a social entertainer, which is fine if that’s what Whitney wanted in life too but no one is asking her and it’s not.
Juniors shows how the male character is flawed and I appreciate that. I really appreciate when problems like this are talked about in YA books.

Juniors isn’t a contemporary that only focuses on romance and I really loved that about this, it focuses mostly on friendship and family and I highly enjoyed it. I will continue to read Hemmings books.

I recommend this to all YA contemporary readers.  This book is a great summer read if you’re a seasonal reader and great to read at the ending of summer to appreciate it’s beautiful weather.


We’re who we are because of each other. – Page 300 (ARC CORY)

There’s something satisfying about leaving things behind, something invigorating about hard endings – the way they make you feel like you’re growing or something. – Page 302 (ARC COPY)


Thanks for reading, 
Alexa Talks Books

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