Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
5 out of 5 stars
The highway stretches out before you, off into the distance. An endless straight line that’ll take you to your ultimate destination: California. It’s your own personal yellow brick road. All you need to complete the picture is the dog and the munchkins. The van you’re riding in cruises down the road. The wind whips your face, tugging your hair loose. You wiggle your toes out of the window, enjoying the warm air. With the windows down and music blasting, you think to yourself, this is exactly how I want my summer to be. If only this entire trip wasn’t because your sister killed herself, and you don’t have any ruby slippers to bring her back either.
Out of the two sisters, Harper is the average one. She doesn’t have amazing grades, she’s not particularly good at anything, and she’s not the best kid either. She’s not living up to her “true potential,” or so everyone says. But no one ever says that about June, Harper’s perfect older sister, who has the best grades, the boyfriend, the perfect life, really. Out of the two you would think if one of them were to take their life it’d be Harper, the one who’s just surviving day by day. But it turns out that Harper is better than June at something- living.
Harper finds June dead in the backseat of her car, a week before June’s high school graduation. Harper and June weren’t the closest of sisters, but Harper is devastated, and can’t believe she didn’t see this coming. Maybe she could have done something, stopped her somehow. Even though June is gone, the one thing Harper can do is take June’s ashes to California, the one place that June always dreamed of going to. So Harper, her best friend Laney, June’s ashes, and the mysterious Jake who has some sort of connection with June, set off on a cross-country trip to California. Is this what June would have wanted? And what’s does Jake know about June that Harper doesn’t? Hannah Harrington reveals all in her debut novel about a trip that needs to be taken in order for the living to keep on going in, Saving June!
Saving June pleasantly surprised me, and there was much more to it than I had expected. This wasn’t just a book about a sister’s death, but also one about friendship, love, and really good music. The trip to California wasn’t only in memory of June, but it was something Harper had to do to be able to cope with her sister’s death. It was necessary for her to be able to move on, no matter how hard the journey would be. I recommend this book for older teens, as it does contain mature topics.
After reading Saving June, I have a ton of music that I’ve got to check out. Throughout the trip, Harper and Jake really connect through their love of music. Music is what brought them together in the first place, after Harper finds a CD mix that Jake had made for June. Music was one of the outlets they used to cope. It was a way of escape, something for Harper and Jake to get lost in and forget about all the pain for awhile. Being a huge fan of music myself, I was so excited to be introduced to so many new artists, especially the older ones that are classics. The music in the book really made it a much more immersive experience, and helped the reader connect more to the book as well.
The characters in Saving June really made the book what it is. They’re connections with one another and the pain that they each held brought them even closer together. There’s more to Harper than the rebellious daughter, and the same goes for Jake, Laney, and even June. I really got a chance to read about each of their stories and how they all intertwined. By the end of the book I even felt like I knew June, despite her not being around anymore. Even though she was gone, Harper, Jake, and Laney all had so many memories of her, and I got to see how June was not only as a sister, but as a friend.
With the flick of a switch author Hannah Harrington could make the emotions in the book go from depressing to funny. Her writing truly brought the characters to life, and gave me the chance to share in their pain, but also in their laughter and joy at times too. Harper’s voice has a cynical outlook on things, and her sarcastic, dry humor put a light spin on things. Saving June didn’t just make me feel for June, but how her death affected everyone who loved her as well.
Saving June took me on a trip of my own as I traveled with Harper, Jake, and Laney to find the peace they were all searching for. It might have taken some detours, diners, sightseeing, and a lot of bathroom stops along the way, but the three of them finally get where it is they want to go. Join Harper, as she searches for all the signs she missed before in, Saving June!
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!