HaBO: 90s YA Series with Biracial Heroine

This HaBO request is from Alyssa. She’s trying to track down a YA series she just can’t seem to remember. Trigger warning for the description below:

My small town library had a dismal selection of good YA, but in the early 90s I fell in love with a series they had. It was a group of teens and the writing was smart, funny, and real. I don’t remember specific plot lines, but do remember a couple of the characters distinctly because they were so different than anyone I knew in real life.

A biracial girl that had an older sister that she felt she could never live up to. At some point in the series she finds out her perfect sister actually tried to commit suicide because she felt so much pressure to be perfect, and she wears bracelets on both wrists to hide the scars. The character also gets a lot of crap for being biracial and has braids that she takes out and towards the end works at a home/care center for babies born with AIDS where she meets a sexy older guy.

A hippy type character whose father took her mothers last name and hyphenated? And there’s a scene I remember being hysterical where she brings a coconut to school for lunch and they all try and open it?

I remember the series ended on a cliffhanger and my library never got the next book, if there was one, in. I’ve googled so much and even convinced myself it had to be Katherine Applegate’s Girlfriends series, but I’ve read the first couple in the re-release (The Islanders) and it’s not the same kids!

Okay…MAYBE I know this one. My first guess is Ann M. Martin’s California Series, which follows a group of teens in CA. There’s a hippie-ish girl and a teen of color whose sister does volunteer work at a women’s shelter. I was addicted to this series and because of the serious subject matter, my grandparents refused to buy them for me. They came out in the late-nineties.

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