February 20, 2012

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Paperback; 322 pages
Published November 22, 2011 by Harlequin Teen

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’
Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.
When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.
Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.
Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Saving June was achingly beautiful, tragic, and still teetered on the verge of sexy and humorous. I was expecting something dark, and while it definitely deals with grief and the effects of suicide on those left behind, it was still lighthearted in a way that I don’t think I can explain.

Never in my life have I come across a character that I related to more than Harper. She’s cynical, has strong views when it comes to religion, and has a hard time figuring out a way to deal with her grief. She can’t cry, regardless of how much she misses June—the tears just won’t come. It’s as if her body and mind are blocking everything out, even if she doesn’t want to block it out. Even if she wants to deal with this thing head on—she can’t, because she’s gone through life with this thick exterior that isn’t easily penetrated. I think this connection I felt with this character was what made me love it so much, among other things. She is impetuous and selfish, though, and I can see some people having an issue with her character. There were things she did (namely, stealing her sister’s ashes without caring how it would affect her mother) that really bothered me, though I knew it was coming and understood why she felt it needed to be done.  The secondary characters were equally endearing, and I think Harrington did a great job of building the relationships between them, as different as they all may be.

It seems to be inevitable that a road trip novel will have strong links to music, but it isn’t some I have grown tired of, yet. Music plays a large role in my life, and I think that is true for a vast amount of people, so that is an aspect that a lot of people can relate to. You may not like the same music as the characters in the books (although, the Doors, underground rap, I mean really this book was just more relatable for me with every passing page), but a lot of people will understand that link to music that is constantly there, in everything you do.

The road trip was fun and I enjoyed seeing some of their adventures, but I think Saving June is more character driven than plot driven, and the hours together in a car with these main characters was entertaining. I think the ending wrapped up a little too nicely, especially for a book that was so painfully honest up until that point, which is the main reason this isn't a full five star book for me.

I recommend everyone at least give this a shot. On the surface it may look like your typical road trip/dead sister book, but I think it’s much more than that. I’m anxious to see what Harrington comes up with next.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. I didn't have very high expectations for this book based on the road trip/dead sister synopsis but it ended up being so much more in such an enjoyable way-I was taken completely off guard with how good this book was, if not absolutely perfect.


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