Anywhere but Paradise

Lerner Publishing Group

Trade Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60684-585-1

Set in 1960 Hawaii, this is the story of reluctant seventh-grade newcomer Peggy Sue Bennett, who is baffled by local customs, worried about her quarantined cat and targeted by a school bully because she is haole, white. At first, Peggy Sue would rather be anywhere—anywhere but paradise.

But a new friend, hula lessons, the beauty of the islands and more, help Peggy Sue find her way. This is a story about fear and guilt. About hope and home. About aloha, love.


2016 WILLA Literary Award Finalist Children’s/Young Adult Fiction & Nonfictio

2016 Texas Institute of Letters Best Children’s Book (H-E-B/Jean Flynn Award) finalist.

“. . . evocative descriptions highlight both the local and universal aspects of island life. Born in Hawaii, Bustard adeptly weaves elements of Hawaiian culture, lore, and history into an emotionally rich story.”

Publishers Weekly

“…this coming-of-age tale offers a vivid, accessible portrait of a fascinating time and place.”


Anywhere but Paradise gives young readers a history and a heart lesson.  Anne Bustard opens another door to conversations on differences and what lies underneath.

Rita Williams-Garcia, Coretta Scott King Award Winner for P.S. Be Eleven, Newbery Honor Award Winner for One Crazy Summer

In Anywhere but Paradise, Bustard brings an insider’s voice to a heartwarming and slightly bittersweet tale of a girl struggling to open herself up to her new home and figure out if she truly belongs in “paradise.”  In short, Anywhere but Paradise offers a compelling heroine and a lush setting in an evocative and thought-provoking read.

Greg Leitich Smith, author of Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo, and Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn

As an outsider, a haole, Peggy Sue is forced to navigate the rough waters of hatred and ridicule.  Can she find her way and make a new home?  It will take courage, determination and an incarcerated cat to find out.  Written in lyrical prose that echoes the songs of the Hawaiian Islands themselves, Anne Bustard’s debut novel is a love letter to anyone who has ever felt out of place, homesick, or just plain scared.

Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor Award Winner for The Underneath.