Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 336
Release date: November 22nd 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley - thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing a free eGalley of this book.
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
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.

First sentence:
According to the puppy-of-the-month calendar hanging next to the phone in the kitchen, my sister June died on a Thursday, exactly nine days before her high school graduation.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

On the surface, you could say Saving June is about Harper coping with her sister's suicide. But for me, that wasn't the most important part - it's about so much more. It's not really about grief, or the road trip, or her relationship with Jake, it's just about being alive. I know, that sounds so corny, but that's what this book was like for me - every line made me happy to be alive. The plot isn't what made this book work, it's just an overall feeling - something you can't put your finger on, something that's just there.

That's not to say the plot wasn't good - I love the whole idea for this book. It has all my favorite topics - I don't know why, but grief just really fascinates me, I'm a sucker for romance, and road trips make everything better (I've never been on one, but I just love the feel of them). Combine those three, and it's basically guaranteed I'll love the book. And I love the idea of bringing June's ashes to California - I can't explain why, but there's just something so peaceful about it.

Harper is one amazing character. She could be (and has the right to be) wallowing in grief, but she's sarcastic and so much fun to read about. That's not to say she's not emotional and kind of all over the place - of course she has those moments too. But for the most part, she's quirky and entertaining. There are loads of books out there about girls whose older sister dies (by the way, why is it always the older sister? No other siblings ever seem to die in contemporary YA...), making the younger sister feel so inadequate compared to her older sister. I'm glad Harper's not like that - her view on things is really refreshing.

The secondary characters are great too. I loved Jake - he's a fully-developed and complex character. He's swoonworthy but flawed enough to be realistic. The relationship between Harper and Jake is so realistically slow I kept wanting them to just kiss and get it over with, and when I want the relationship to move faster, that means the pacing is just right. Laney is a great character, too - she has her own problems but is always supportive to Harper, and it's the same the other way around. It's so nice to read about a good, functioning friendship for once.

The writing is amzing and flows so well. I can't even explain why, but every line of this book is beautiful. I love how the writing is complex and beautiful but still fits Harper's voice perfectly. Hannah Harrington's words carry so much meaning - I laughed and I cried while reading this book, and several times I just had to stop and think.

Another thing I liked about Saving June is the music. I'm not even that into music, but for some reason I love reading about it, and I love when books include playlists, like Saving June does - it makes me feel even closer to the story.

This is one amazing book. The writng, plot and characters are great, and it conveys a beautiful, life-affirming message, despite the dark topics. I'm going to need to buy a finished copy once it's released, and I can't wait to see what Hannah Harrington comes up with next!


  1. I'm with you. This story was something special. There aren't many that I actually feel a connection with. It was very hard for me to set it down and leave it there. It was hard not to dive right back into the story.


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