Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Pages: Paperback; 322
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Language; Sexual Situations
HDB Rating: 4 Key to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good contemporary read. Readers okay with upper YA themes.
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When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.
When I first set out to read Saving June, I wasn't at the best place in my life. So I shelved it for a bit and waited until I felt more able to tackle the sad content in this book. I picked it back up a few days ago, and instantly fell in love. Hannah Harrington has built a set of characters who are easy to love, and also who are extremely realistic. While Saving June isn't the happiest of stories, it definitely is true to life.
Harper Scott is a character that a lot of people will easily connect with. She is the younger sister, and therefore feels a lot of times like she's in her sister's shadow. For Harper, life is all about being nothing like her older sister. The rebel of the family. However it is when June takes her own life that things really come into focus. I won't ruin anything for you, but what follows is a road trip of the most poignant kind. Harper learns what it means to be a sister, what it means to be an individual, and how sometimes life is just worth living.
What I loved most about Harper is how realistically she deals with her sister's death. She shows blatant and misplaced anger. She exhibits the feelings of depression. She curses June and wonders why she left her behind. Harper goes through everything that a normal, mourning person would and it is beautifully done. This isn't a story about a person who commits suicide, this is a story about the people that they leave behind. By the time I was a few chapters in, I was rooting for Harper. I just wanted everything to be okay again for her.
What I didn't like so much was some of the side stories that mingle in with Harper's journey. Again, no spoilers, but Harper's best friend finds a problem of her own on their trip and I felt like it kind of took away the spotlight from June and Harper. I also wasn't sure about the romance aspect. Jake, for me, was just kind of there. An available love interest. I don't necessarily think it took away from Harper's story line, but for me it didn't really add anything either.
At the end of the day Saving June is a tough read, but one that is well worth your time. Everything you can possibly imagine in a teenage life is explored here, and it is done amazingly well. Grab a box of tissues. You'll need them.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.