Friday, December 9, 2011

Review of Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Pages: 336
Publication Date: Nov. 22nd 2011
Source: NetGalley, for review
Content: 13+ for sexuality and sensitive topics   

Back Cover

"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.

First Lines

"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."

In a Sentence

Though I had I thought it was a little too predictable and I had a few issues with the realistic aspect of the novel, overall, Saving June was an emotional, thought-provoking read that captured the pain of losing a loved one.

My Thoughts

Saving June didn't take me long to read. Once I actually sat down and put aside some time to read it, I flew through the book rather quickly. From the first chapter, I was drawn to Harper's character and sympathized with her loss. I've known people who have had to go through similar situations, and while (thankfully) I can't identify exactly with what Harper was going through, I can only imagine how devastated losing a family member in that way would be.

I liked Hannah's character a lot because I felt she was easy to empathize with, but also different enough that she was a memorable character and didn't just blend in with all the other YA contemporary characters out there. I loved that her relationship with her sister, June, was such a big part of the story, even though June herself didn't make much of an appearance in the book. Throughout the book, it became obvious that having June as an older sister was an important contribution to Harper's identity, and losing her caused Harper to question a lot of things she had previously taken for granted. As a result, Harper's journey to obtain closure after June's death also became a journey of self-discovery for her. 

I loved that a lot of the plot line centered around Harper taking her sister's ashes to the one place she always wanted to go...California. However, there was one aspect of the story that I found to be a little too convenient, and another that I thought was unrealistic. SPOILERS! Scroll over to read. Second, I thought that Laney's pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage was a bit too much. While I loved the character of Laney, I thought this took away from Harper's story. END SPOILERS. Second, I wasn't a big fan of the whole romance aspect of the book. I had a pretty ambivalent attitude toward Jake's character--I didn't particularly like or dislike him--but I felt that having him as a love interest wasn't really necessary for Hannah's story. 

I do have to give Harrington kudos for the way she portrayed Harper's reactions to her sister's death in the book. The description of the emotions (or lack thereof) that Harper experienced throughout her journey were both heart-wrenching and extremely real. Furthermore, I felt that Saving June was not only a story about a girl getting over her sister's death, but also the story of a girl coming of age and learning a little bit more about the world she lives in.

Overall, Saving June was a worthwhile read, and I already know that it's become fairly popular in the blogosphere. If you're a fan of the contemporary genre or enjoy good writing, you might want to give this one a try.


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