Riptide Summer by Lisa Freeman

Riptide Summer continues where Honey Girl left off and features all the great observations on growing up in 1970s Los Angeles. Those who enjoyed the first book will likely find a similar love in this second book for that reason. And although this feels like ab ending to the series, I can’t say I would be disappointed if Nani’s story continued.

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Story: Nani continues to settle into the Southern California surf scene, always mindful of the ‘rules’ but also willing to make her own. Previously content to be a minion and not a leader, she is finding that she doesn’t agree with how her group is run and is starting to consider becoming a leader herself. But with trouble still at home with her alcoholic mother and visitors from the islands bringing their own sad news, Nani will soon be forced to make some hard choices on what she really wants from her life now that she is almost an adult.

Riptide Summer contains fewer of the 1970s observations and a lot more of life considerations. Author Freeman really nails the uncertainty of the teen years – from the new and uncertain young recruits into the “honey girl’ group to the older teens and life choices they are being forced to make now that they are expected to be adults. It all feels so authentic, even perhaps a bit innocent, in that time before internet and cell phones. None of the teens in the book are smarter than they should be – and they make really dumb mistakes and misjudgments that hit really sad notes of accuracy. From teen pregnancy to breaking up, frenemies and rivals.

Nani’s relationships continue to morph – from her conflicted relationships with Nigel and Rox to how she deals with/handles the new girls in her group on the beach. The core of this second book is maturity and perspective as the teens are/aren’t groomed by their parents or each other for adulthood. In contrast, the first book was about fitting in and finding one’s place in the world.

In all, a very enjoyable read and a real breath of fresh air in the YA genre. We always say that things were different in the past – this series really nails so much of just how much things have changed for the modern teen. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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