Title: Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: A+ and A Recommended Read
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley
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.
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.
Hannah Harrington’s debut novel Saving June is a beautiful mix of humor, angst, heartbreak and healing. Devastated, angered and confused by June’s suicide, Harper Scott, best friend Laney Sterling, and Jake Tolan embark on a cross country journey that forever changes their lives and fulfills June’s deepest desire.
Harper is a complex character that is full of contradictions. Strong yet vulnerable and insecure, she is the total opposite of her successful “perfect” older sister. Harper is bluntly honest, a little jaded and cynical, but so sincere and real that one cannot help but feel every emotion she is experiencing in the aftermath of June’s death.
Laney Sterling is the kind of best friend everyone hopes for but only a lucky few ever find. Her own family life is dysfunctional yet she maintains an upbeat and positive outlook on life. Even though she is dealing with her own personal crisis, Laney gives Harper an amazing amount of emotional support. And as any true friend would, she is brutally honest with Harper when the situation calls for it.
Jake Tolan is a complicated young man who is wise beyond his years. His hard life and difficult childhood provide him with maturity and insight that many adults never achieve. His love of music and how it relates to life is amazing and incredibly profound. But what makes Jake such a truly exceptional character is the fact that he sees Harper for the extraordinary young woman she is. Their romance is achingly sweet and they perfectly complement one another.
And now we come to June. While we never actually meet June, her presence is, of course, felt throughout the novel. We see the various facets of her personality through the eyes of Harper, Laney and Jake. While we do not really come to know her, we grieve the loss of a young woman who felt she had nothing to live for. Like Harper we wonder what drove June to commit such an incomprehensible and final act.
Saving June is an intense novel that is insightful and heartbreaking. Hannah Harrington deftly handles the difficult topic of teen suicide and its impact on those left behind in a realistic and thought-provoking manner.
Saving June is a haunting novel that is poignant and bittersweet but also uplifting and absolutely breathtaking. It will bring you to tears, but it will also make you laugh out loud. It will touch your heart and leave an indelible mark on your soul.