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11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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58 / 104 books. 56% done!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Hawaii: One Girl's Dream, Another Girl's Nightmare

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For most people, moving to Hawaii probably sounds like a dream come true.  Not for Peggy Sue Bennett.  The 12-year-old Texan couldn't feel more out of place in The Aloha State.  Not only is she haole (white), but this is 1960 and her classmates are not shy about telling her just what they think of uppity non-natives.  Every day.  And not in a kind way either.  Kiki Kahana, an Eighth Grade bully, even threatens to kill Peggy Sue if she doesn't help her pass home ec.  

Peggy Sue's misery is compounded by the fact that her precious cat, Howdy, has been impounded by the Hawaiian government; her mother has a serious case of the blues; and Peggy Sue's best friend from back home seems to have forgotten all about her.  Things can't get any worse—until a terrifying tsunami threatens Peggy Sue's Honolulu home.  The disaster shows her her own strength and courage, which just might be the keys to finally finding her place in her new home. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's vacationed in lush, exotic Hawaii and wondered what it would be like to live there.  Anywhere but Paradise, a new middle grade novel by Anne Bustard (available April 14, 2015), gives readers a little taste of that daydream.  Filled with references to Hawaiian culture, mythology, traditions, etc. it's an atmospheric tale that will appeal to anyone who's ever felt the pain and loneliness of being an outsider.  Although the story is a little unfocused, it's authentic, enjoyable and, ultimately, hopeful.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for intense/scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Anywhere but Paradise from the generous folks at Egmont USA.  Thank you!


  1. Someone else reviewed this book recently and I remember thinking it looked cute but nothing I'd be running out to purchase.

  2. Fun backstory: I went to a small, private, hands-on writing conference in Austin about 8 years ago where manuscripts were exchanged between the writers and I read this one, as a matter of fact. I'm so thrilled for Anne that it has finally published with a darling cover. She's a wonderful, warm and generous person, too. Hung out with her a lot during that 4 days. I can't wait to read the final version now!


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