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Honey Girl

(Honey Girl #1)

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  344 ratings  ·  91 reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Sky Pony (first published January 1st 2015)
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Average rating 3.17  · 
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Pearl Angeli
3 Honey Stars!

A book rich in teenage drama, Honey Girl was a quick and lighthearted read. The book tells the story of 15 year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa who lives in Hawaii. When her dad passed away, she and her mom moved to Los Angeles, California to start a new life. In California she met a crowd that interests her-- the LA surfers crowd and a group of "honey girls". But of course she has to follow some "rules" and tips in order to belong.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to warm up
Tyler J [They/He] Gray
I don't get it and all it's doing is making me angry and want to throw the book across the room. I thought my sapphic summer loving heart would love this novel. I feel bad but I have to dnf it at 65 pages, and I feel awful because I have an arc of the sequel but i'll have to give the books away to someone else who will hopefully like them.

There are a bunch of stupid rules that I can't wrap my head around. Girls can't be smart. Girls can't surf (if I wasn't disabled I would LOVE to surf). Don't
Online Eccentric Librarian
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, literature

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More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog

Honey Girl is an engrossing coming-of-age story set in early 1970s Santa Monica, California. Navigating the beach culture, adhering to strict unwritten rules for girls, and coming to understand her own self are at the heart of 15 year-old half Hawaiian girl Nani's story.

Synopsis: Grieving over the recent loss of her larger than life Hawaiian father, Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is forced to relocate to her white/haole
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was sent this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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 where girls weren't allowed to surf and being gay wasn't accepted. We see scenes of how you were treated if you were gay and it
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
For a book from a small publisher, HONEY GIRL has been getting some strong word of mouth. It came up in two totally unrelated forums that I frequent and I just knew that I had to read it. Lesbian surfer girl? Sign me up! Of course, the problem with word of mouth is that the message can get a little garbled on the way.

I was sad when I started HONEY GIRL to discover that Nani Nuuhiwa doesn't surf. She knows how to, but she doesn't, because she wants to be cool. (And the consequences for being a
Jul 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017, 1-star
WHY DID I EVEN READ THIS??! Pretentious, arrogant and superficial girls, the most unlikeable character I've ever read about, and no moral to the story whatsoever. A crap novel about "fitting in" by following strict rules and trying too hard to suck up to people.

I don't usually make lists of things I loved / hated in novels, but today I'm going to try my hand at that.

Everything I Loved:
1. The Hawaiian references/words in the story.
2. The dialogue was smooth and unique.
3. The writing was fluid
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
This book is the epitome of summer drama. It was light-hearted and fun and had plenty of funny moments. This is such a quick read and an ideal beach book.

Things I Liked :
-Politics. The different rules for what it means to be local, what it means to be a girl, made the story so dramatic and fun. These unwritten rules strongly influenced how all the characters acted, but the story never felt forced. It flowed really well and was natural and easy going.
-Inner dialogue. Nani’s inner dialogue was
Janie Johnson
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I am glad I was finally able to get to this book and I will soon also read it's sequel, Riptide Summer. I think this is the first LGBT book I have read and it was pretty enjoyable. I thought that it being set in the 70's was really fun and somewhat nostalgic. I liked the characters a lot in this story, even though some of them were annoying, it was hard to trust some of them, because I could not tell if they were being genuine to Nani or ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Part of the synopsis:
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.

This book definitely transported me to a California beach in 1972. I loved the beach feel of this book. It made me want to go sit on the
Meredith Mara
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star-reads
Honey Girl 4.5/5 Stars

I started this book Friday night and finished Saturday morning; it’s that good.

After her father’s unexpected death, Nani finds herself transplanted from Hawaii to Santa Monica, California. Her father’s ashes stuffed into a talking Mrs. Beasley doll and a host of never-can-tell secrets buried deep within herself.

Stranded on the mainland, the culture shock is for real. Nani’s the half-Hawaiian outsider with an alcoholic mom and less-than-perfect home life. And she knows that
Feb 25, 2015 added it
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 ...more
****I won this book on Goodreads in exchange for my honest review*****

Honey Girl is a story about Nani, a young girl whose father has just died and has now moved with her mother from their home in Hawaii to Southern California. Nani has 2 main goals: the first is to release her father's ashes to the ocean, which she pilfered from her mother so they wouldn't be buried. The second is to find a place for herself with the locals. To help her do that, Nani has a list of rules to follow. Though she's
Absolutely this book has things going for it, first and foremost being that it's LGBTQ with a queer girl of color as the MC. It also has really knowledgeable cultural detail about Hawaii, which is excellent. But there is so, so much density of internal monologue, backstory, and that same cultural detail that it's hard to absorb anything - it physically stressed me out trying to retain information in the early chapters, and I couldn't keep anyone straight (heh) because there was just so much of ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Lisa Freeman's book feels like nothing I've ever read - in the best way. In a sharp, intimate writing style, Lisa brings us the story of a fifteen-year old Hawaiian girl navigating through social and cultural issues after the death of her father brings her and her mother to California. Wanting to fit in, Nani struggles to play by the rules she's been taught, all while finding her own way and coming to terms with her emerging bisexuality. Young women (and adults too) will be touched by Nani's
Mar 21, 2015 added it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I gave this 50 pages but couldn't get into it. The writing didn't work for me -- all tell, no show -- and I never got a sense of any of the characters at all.

Honey Girl is set in the 1970s California (and Hawaii) beach scene. After the sudden death of Nani's father, her mother decided for them to move from their house in Hawaii to California. One of Nani's goals, aside from giving her father a "proper" burial, is to be a part of the lineup - aka "the mean girls" - of the State Beach.

I have mixed feelings about Nani. I didn't like her but I didn't hate her either. Well, I would be a huge hypocrite if I didn't tell you that at one point in my life
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute treasure. It combines a well drawn period piece (early 1970's) with loss, alienation and new love. It doesn't miss a step. I am the exact age of the players in this book so it is a period I know very well. I was the wrong coast but I did spend many months in Hawaii in the early 70's. Every detail here is genuine and the play of emotions exactly the mindset of a 15 year old girl. There is not a false note in this entire book.

Freeman does a lovely job creating the rigid,
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Incredibly well-written book that manages to capture 1970's nostalgia, Hawaiian culture, the struggle to fit in and dealing with grief.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: map-in-the-front
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I’ve thought about this book a lot since I read it. I read it in a single day, so it wasn’t that it was boring, not at all. And I did like it, at least I liked certain parts of it. I don’t know how to describe it, I’m just so ambivalent about it. I have no idea what to feel. Most of all I think I was disappointed it wasn’t the sort of book I thought it would be, but is that a flaw? Not really. Still, there were things that didn’t quite work, although it’s still a good read.

It seemed as though
Martalti Moon
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Originally posted at

Thank you so much, Lisa and Lauren, for sending me the book in exchange for an honest review.


I think this book is a major critique to society, and I loved it. I could perfectly believe the situations the characters were put in, the way they acted... It was believable for the most part.

Our main character has just moved out of Hawaii and wants to be accepted into her new home, Santa Monica, so she works her way
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I received Honey Girl from Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review.

Honey Girl is not about a girl surfer. Let me just state that right now, because that’s what I thought it was about. The synopsis never says that Nani surfs, but it sure does imply it. But it’s 1972 and one of the Rules that Nani adheres to is that “Girls don’t surf.” Not if they want to be accepted by “the lineup,” the coolest girls on the beach, they don’t. The lineup’s sole job seems to be sitting the beach looking
Sep 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
It was well explained, and each setting was easily visualized. But I really hated this book. It was super cliche, and everything about it bugged me.
Lauren James
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, on-a-break
[A copy of this book was received from Sky Pony in exchange for an honest review.]

I’d never read a book about surfing or Hawaii before, so I was so excited to read this. The story is actually set in California, but Nani talks a lot about Hawaii, and that was by far my favourite part of this story. I would love to read a prequel set in the years before the story, because I enjoyed it so much. I really enjoyed the beach setting though, it was very lovely to read about the sea and sand scenery! It
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
I love YA fiction, but I don’t love juvenile stuff. That seems like a ridiculous phrase, but if you think about it, you know the difference. You can either come up with a hypothetical situation that works or you’ve come across the line between juvenile and YA while reading a book. Either way, Honey Girl crosses that line significantly.

The opening troubled me as Nani went through the steps and “rules” to get in with the lineup of girls at the beach since being forced to move from Hawaii to South
Andrew Carlson
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honey Girl is an engaging story of a young woman unwillingly transplanted from her native home of Hawaii to the unknown culture of Santa Monica, CA. Nani tries to hold on to her Hawaiian heritage as she desperately tries to fit in with the surf scene on State Beach.

Nani's narration of the story clearly shows her emotions, from love and respect for her Hawaiian father and traditions, to resentment towards her mother for moving, to apprehension and fear that she will not be accepted by fellow
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sent-by-authors
I was sent Honey Girl in exchange for a review! Which is also available on Instagram at jessthebookslover.
Just finished Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman and oh my, this was a super particular book!
Star signs? Yes, please, I am a Capricorn and yes, I do believe in the stars! But the interesting part was the setting. I've never read books set in the '70 so I was fascinated. This book deals with homosexuality, drugs, and alcohol problems, but also with everyday life and the struggle to be accepted
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Haunani Nuuhiwa moves to Santa Monica, California with her mother Jean, determined to make it big and join the line up at the State beach. She also has a big secret: she smuggled out her Dad's ashes out of the urn so that she could give him a proper send off at the sea, and also she likes girls.

Annie Iopa, a hostess at her father's bar back in Hawaii gives her a whole lot of nonsensical rules ( Show no mercy, Girls don't surf, Don't eat or burp, Don't talk about world events ?!) to follow. The
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads.

There are not a lot of surfer girl books out there so I was pleased to run across this one. Nani has to leave her life behind in Hawaii after her father passes away. Her mother relocates them to California and Nani has to start all over in the hierarchy of life at the beach. With rules provided by her friend from Hawaii, Nani has to work her way through the waves of becoming one with the in-crowd.

This book is set in the 70's so there are
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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 led 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 Writing Pedagogy certificate from Antioch University. Her debut novel, ...more

Other books in the series

Honey Girl (2 books)
  • Riptide Summer (Honey Girl, #2)