cover image Juniors


Kaui Hart Hemmings. Putnam, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-17360-8

Lea Lane, daughter of a single mother and B-list actress, is a self-conscious and mostly unnoticed junior at the prestigious Punahou Prep School in Hawaii. When the Wests, a wealthy family with longtime ties to Lea’s mother, offer the use of their gorgeous guest house rent-free, Lea balks, especially since the West children, Whitney and Will, also attend Punahou. Though daunted by their affluence and social power, Lea grows attracted to Will and befriends Whitney, who reveals a side Lea has never seen at school. Lea’s confidence increases, but so do her concerns about these new relationships—and how much of herself she should abandon to pursue them. Set against a lush Hawaiian backdrop, Hemmings’s (The Descendants) first YA novel holds few surprises. The Wests are a stereotypical pretentious family, while Lea’s “I’m not good enough” mantra gets to be repetitive. By book’s end, Lea has gained some perspective and a better sense of who she is, but some readers may wish she had gotten there sooner. Ages 14–up. Agent: David Forrer and Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (Sept.)