Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Pages: 376
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Published: May 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781921794094

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.

I'd heard great things about Saving June from other Aussie reviewers (inexplicably, it was released here just recently, despite the US release date in November) who have awesome taste in books, so I was naturally excited to get my hands on a copy.

Harper is shocked and saddened by her sister's suicide. June didn't leave anything behind to explain, and Harper decides to steal her ashes and take them to California -- where June was obsessed with going but never went. In tow on her road trip from Michigan to California is Harper's best friend, Laney, and the mysterious friend of June's, Jake.

Saving June was an incredibly emotional and realistic portrayal of the aftermath of a suicide. Each of our central characters had an appropriate reaction to the event, given their relationship to June. Harper's emotional state was conveyed clearly through the tone in which she narrated. I felt incredibly sympathetic for her.

But beyond the emotional, grieving part of the story, Saving June is also a really fun read. Road trips with cool best friends and mysterious, music-obsessed guys! Visiting tourist traps like Fridgehenge! I was under the impression that this book would be a solemn, quiet drive to spread her sister's ashes, but there were so many fun stops along the way.

The musical aspect to Saving June was spectacular. Harper and Jake bonded over the music that plays such a large role in Jake's life. The constant musical references also help to set the tone of the story, with many of the songs they play on the journey emotional and heart-wrenching and written from the artist's own pain.

An emotional, fun, well-paced story about grieving and moving on, topped with a sweet and touching conclusion, Saving June is right up there with my favourite contemporaries.

I give Saving June a 5 out of 5.


Favourite quote:

"It's actually one of my favourite shows, too -- though, granted, it has less to do with the nature stuff and more to do with the fact that Skye has cheekbones you could sharpen knives on, a yummy Australian accent and wash-board abs."

(Favourite because, of course, the name. Though this Skye is also Australian, this one's male. I'll never, ever get used to my name being unisex!)