Image from GoodreadsTitle: Saving JuneAuthor: Hannah HarringtonPublisher: Mira InkPublication Date: 1 June 2012Source: Review CopyRating: 5/5Synopsis from Goodreads
‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’
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 cannot tell you how much I loved this book, its raw, realistic and relatable. It sweeps you right along for the ride with the characters. The brilliant use of music and the inclusion of the play-lists at the back of the book gave that extra special feeling to the narrative. The music choices are a work of genius when listened to in context to the story.
Harper has grown up in her sister June’s shadow, always comparing herself negatively to June. Although as circumstances have shown June was far from happy, she spent her life living it for other people rather than doing the things she really wanted to. Until she reaches the point that she is so overwhelmed by the burden of other peoples wishes and her own unfulfilled life that she commits suicide. Harper is the unfortunate person to find her.
The portrayal of grief within the narrative is poignant and emotional combined with the very real sense of guilt and blame we put on ourselves following any tragedy. I felt for Harper on a personal level, being the youngest of 3 children with a large age gap I grew up in the huge shadow of my siblings. Constantly being compared to them and not in a favorable way. So I understood how Harper felt, my heart went out to her, I could relate to her rebellious nature and wanting to be the polar opposite of June in an attempt to stop being compared to her. Harper’s inner strength really shines through, she remains true to who she is and develops a level of self-awareness a lot of people never achieve in a lifetime.
As little details about June come to light, Harper realizes that no-one knew the ‘real’ June probably not even June herself. As a final act of love and a way of setting June free, Harper embarks on a journey physically and metaphorically to release June, fulfilling one of June’s wishes to go to California.
The confinement of the road trip provides the ideal base for introspection, Harper comes to recognize the things that drive her, what motivates her and ultimately her own hopes and dreams. A wonderful journey of self discovery accompanied by powerful imagery and a fabulous soundtrack. Powerful writing aided the connection I felt with Harper, I literally felt what she was going through.
It isn’t just Harper that finds herself on this trip. Her companions Laney and Jake learn a lot about themselves too. Laney, as an only child has a different kind of confidence to Harper, she is a wonderful, loyal and understanding friend. Laney has a relaxed relationship with her parents, she is from a privileged background and doesn’t have many repercussions to her actions. Yet, she lacks emotional support and love, which she craves, causing her to try to find it in a series of casual flings. However, this has its own consequences; this road-trip has the benefit of introducing Laney to different perspectives to life and the people she encounters help steer her onto a much better path. Opening her horizons if you will (yes pun intended)
Moving onto Jake, I love love love Jake. His music knowledge and eclectic taste swept me off my feet. The way in which music means something personal to him is something I completely relate to. Music can be cathartic, uplifting, an emotional trigger, it can be everything.
I loved the relationship between all the characters, the interactions and the way in which their personalities sparked the others. I really liked how June helped Jake by showing him that he didn’t have to be defined by his background and the way to really make a difference is not to conform to other peoples (lack) of expectation, rather to fulfill your own expectations rather than other peoples an especially emotional lesson as it is clear that this is something June was unable to do for herself.
With the number of times I have used the word love in this review you can probably tell I LOVED this book. I believe reading is utterly subjective and there were aspects in this book I could personally relate to the way in which I relate to music, my relating it to personal experience. I’m sticking with my tagline for this book – Raw, Realistic and Relatable.