Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Book Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mira Ink (1 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848450958
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848450950
Your sister is dead. Nineteen songs can tell you why. Only one boy can help you understand.

Harper Scott s older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June s ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession...and an unknown connection to June. 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 Harper needs. Except...Jake s keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down again.

When Harper’s older sister, June, kills herself, her whole world is flipped upside down. Struggling in what her life has now become, watching how much her mother is drinking and avoiding the over zealous preaching and disapproving looks from Aunt Helen, Harper, while insisting that she’s fine, tries to come to terms with the question on everyone’s lips – why
Plagued with guilt that she didn’t even know there was something wrong with June, Harper makes the brave decision to do the right thing by her sister while she still can. All her life June dreamed of getting out of their small town and going to college in California. Together with Harper’s best friend Laney, and music fanatic, Jake, who has some connection to June he refuses to reveal, Harper takes June’s urn to let her rest in the only place she wanted to be. 
They say it is not about the destination, but the journey. As the three drive across the country to get to California, Harper finds things about herself that she never even knew existed. All her life she was compared to June – the perfect one. The one with good grades and flawless looks. The one who was polite and considerate. The one who didn’t get it into trouble or smoked just because it would annoy someone else. 
Harper’s story was both heartbreaking and inspirational. Our strongest qualities come out in the moments that are sent to test us. Harper is going through the most trying test any of us can ever face. As a main character, I couldn’t have asked for more. Sassy and quick-witted and unafraid to speak her mind, Harper is definitely my kind of protagonist. She is fiercely loyal of those she cares about and quick to jump to their defence. (I dare anyone not to get that rush of female empowerment that page 222 brings. I actually whooped. Out loud.)
As I reader I felt privileged to go on that journey with Harper. I was drawn in so completely I smelled Jake’s cigarette smoke and the citrus of the clementine. I felt the sun on my face through the windscreen and the sweat of the mosh pit. And I cried. A lot. I dread to think what Harper would have called me, but I like to think that Laney would have sympathised. 
While Saving June broaches a very difficult subject, it did not lose its humour. The romance was not shadowed by the weight of grief and June herself was not a morbid, overbearing character. She was always in the periphery, always in the back of my mind, but never bringing down the mood. 
To say that Saving June is a contemporary YA novel, is like saying the Beatles are a band, or that Paris is a city. Because everyone knows that while the Beatles are band, to those that love them they are a band that changes your life. Paris can change the way you see your life and if you let it, Saving June will do the same. 
This is an author to watch out for, and a book to tell everyone to read.


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