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Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Where did you get the book: e-ARC
Release date:

When Harper Scott’s older sister, 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 up her sister’s ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the urn 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 an unknown connection to June. So when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs. Except…Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down—again.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

This book was a piece of treasure that I wasn’t expecting, and I’m so glad I requested it. I was not expecting to love Saving June as much as I did, though I do have a few issues with it, but it’s definitely one of my top YA reads of the year so far.

Harper Scott’s life has been turned upside down with the death of her sister, June, who committed suicide six days ago. As far as Harper, her parents, and everyone else who could see, June was the perfect daughter who did everything right, and who seemed happy in life. Yet when June commits suicide, everyone — especially Harper — can’t understand why June did this, and is left wondering and thinking, why and what made June take her own life.

Of course, this is impossible to find out, and those questions are a big part of the novel for Harper. And when she finds a rock CD in June’s room, and meets Jake, Harper’s perceptions of her sister completely changes. When she goes on the road trip, it’s not only to give her sister what she wanted the most, but for Harper to come to terms with the loss of her sister. Harper also has to deal with her issues of feeling like she was never the good sister, and that she would never measure up to June. Yet despite that, Harper and June had such a close bond from when their parents had their terrible arguments, and then the subsequent divorce.

I really liked that Harper’s relationship with her mother was explored, and that her mother was never made out to be bad or perfect. But what I did dislike about the novel was the ‘bad’ father, and his disinterest in Harper. Their relationship was never resolved, and it felt unsatisfying because in YA, there seems to be a ‘must’ that you have bad terrible parents which I just don’t understand.

Harper, Jake and Laney are such engaging characters that there was never a dull scene in this novel with their road-trip and their adventures along the way. Hannah Harrington infuses such terrific banter between them that I honestly didn’t want this book to end. Saving June is not only about coming to terms with the death of a loved one, but also Harper discovering herself in the process. I thought that Harper taking the ashes of June without her parent’s permission was awful and I kept thinking is she actually doing this? Yet deep down, she knew that it was what her sister wanted, and even though in real life I would be horrified if that happened, in the book it seemed to be the right thing to do.

Whilst this is an emotionally charged book that left me a little drained after reading, there is such witty and funny moments between Harper, Laney and Jake that balanced it brilliantly. Harper and Laney have such a fantastic relationship, and though we never get Laney’s POV, she’s such a big part of the story she never feels like a third wheel. All three characters have issues they need to deal with, and the road-trip is a journey of discovery for all three of them.

Jake. *sigh* I loved Jake. He was an oldie rock-loving soul with none of the teenager emo angst despite his past.  Jake and Harper would rub each other the wrong way, yet the connection between them from the start was so strong. Their romance wasn’t in the forefront of the book as it would have felt wrong with what the main plot was. Harper was able to grieve her sister’s passing with Jake in a way she never felt able to with her family. And it’s through Jake that she learns about a sister she never knew existed, and it was heartbreaking seeing June go through so many emotions.

What Saving June did best and realistically was never answer any of the questions that Harper had about June and why she did what she did, and it’s about Harper coming to terms with that. Saving June is going to become one of my re-reads for many years to come.

Honestly, I don’t think my postive review really does justice to how damn good this book is. I would definitely recommend it and book push it on the masses.

I give Saving June an A.

B&N | Book Depository

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

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