My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I won Anywhere But Paradise in a giveaway, and thoroughly enjoyed reading this historical middle-grade book. Thanks, Egmont!
12-year-old, Peggy Sue has moved from Texas to Paradise, aka Hawaii. What a fluid, transporting entrance into the story it is. In its visual splendor, you’re sent back to 1960, Hawaiian Island Oahu, filled with sunshine, hula, salt, and hibiscus flowers. But Peggy Sue isn’t happy. Not happy at all.
She misses her understanding grandparents, her home in Texas, and worst of all, her cat has to stay in quarantine for 120 days! He’s slipping away, not purring, and barely notices her when she visits. If that’s not bad enough, she’s being singled out for Kill Haole Day, which is what the locals call her kind, the kind of people who dethroned their Queen Liliuokalani in 1893. Who continue to take their jobs, make them do all the work, or at least that’s what Peggy Sue’s nemesis, Kiki, tells her. And Kiki wants revenge.
Peggy Sues starts a couple odd jobs to earn enough money so she can fly back to Texas. She makes a friend in Malina, who helps her start a sewing business. It’s something Peggy Sue is really good at – and Kiki knows this and exploits her talents, bringing them a little too close for comfort.
The pacing is snappy; the chapters are quite short, making for a brisk read. And just when you think everything is simmering down – a terrible disaster strikes, and reorganizes many of Peggy Sue’s held beliefs. It changes her way of thinking and eventually changes the way others view her. She’s quite a tough cookie, even when she doesn’t think so.
A few historical events are entwined in this book, which makes for fun research later. The end is unexpected. An all around great read for 8-12-year-olds, and as someone who had to move too many times growing up, it’s very relatable and at times, a little scary.
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