Friday, 12 July 2013

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Released: May 1st 2011
Pages: 336 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on 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 guess it's kind of backwards to read an author's second novel, love it, and go into reading the debut with high expectation - but I did. Speechless took my breath away, and I read countless other reviews saying that they'd picked up speechless because of how utterly amazing Saving June was. I read the synopsis, and I fell in love - I just hoped the book would meet the hype.

Harper's sister, June, committed suicide, and Harper can't help but hate her for it. June was the perfect teenage girl - why would she do this and leave all this destruction in her wake? Living in a broken home, Harper jumps at the opportunity to drive across state after state to California, June's dream destination, to scatter her ashes. What she doesn't realise is that maybe this trip isn't just for June's memory - maybe it's also for Harper's acceptance.

We've all seen this concept - it has been done over and over and over again; sibling commits suicide, other sibling goes on a road trip to find out why they did it. This is what I originally thought Saving June was, but halfway through, it became clear that there was a slight twist to this story. Not to post spoilers, but the reader never finds out why June killed herself - and that is exactly the beauty of this story. Saving June isn't about why June died - it's about Harper coming to terms with it. This is Harper's story, under June's name.

Harper was a fantastic narrative, though I guess part of me thought that because I'm quite alike her. Nevertheless, I thought she was a protagonist that a range of different readers could relate to, as most have felt an irretrievable loss like hers at some point in their lives. She was very down to Earth, and I found her quick wit hilarious to read about, especially during wit wars with Jake. Jake was also a pretty great love interest (and most definitely swoon-worthy!) A key part in romances is that there is chemistry between the two characters - and damn, did I feel it between these two! I felt kind of sorry for Laney, Harper's best friend, who went along on the road trip with them; fancy spending days on end in a truck with these two and their sexual tension! She is a saint.

As I knew from Speechless, Harrington's writing was brilliant, and draws the reader in until they're hooked. The plot was obviously well thought-out, but I could have never have guessed the twist of Jake's secret - but maybe that's just because I'm bad at spotting the obvious? Despite the book being themed around death, Saving June is very much about celebrating being alive - before the road-trip, Harper's life doesn't have much meaning. Throughout the novel, you watch her grow as a person, and I think it makes the reader grow, too.

Overall, I loved Saving June. As much as Speechless? Maybe. It's the kind of book that is a must-read, and I definitely need to get my hands on my own copy. If you're intrigued by the synopsis, loved Speechless, or have never read a book of Harrington's before, then definitely add this to your TBR list - you won't regret it.
Rating: 5/5

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