Saving June was a book I heard a lot about from my blogging friends like Casey (Darkreaders) and Laura (Sister Spooky) so I had high expectations from it. I adore contemporary YA and have a deep not-so-secret-now love of the notion of the road trip. I guess the UK equivalent is going inter railing around Europe, but there’s something about that cliched image of a convertible car, snacks, music and the American highways, right? So I had a vibe Saving June would be a great read.
I wasn’t wrong.
Harper’s sister June kills herself in the middle of May. She doesn’t leave a note. However as Harper’s family disintegrate and her divorced parents plan to split her ashes between them – something I found so uncomfortable to read personally – Harper steals the ashes and with her best friend, Laney, and a mysterious friend of June’s, Jake, plans to road-trip to California, a place June was desperate to go to, and spread her ashes there.
What follows is a beautiful, quasi-coming-of-age tale that finds its way into your heart. One of the most remarkable things about this book is how heavily music comes into and how much Harrington must love music. From this book, which has soundtracks at the end, I’ve discovered new artists like Ani Defranco and the music just so perfectly integrates itself with the novel.
Grief is difficult and scary. I’m one of the people who doesn’t know how to react when I’m in grief for example. Harper’s grief was real and her need to understand why well-handled. Suicide isn’t an easy topic. This book just perfectly shows what it feels like to be left behind with all the questions and no answers. The answers we get or don’t get aren’t enough and what do you do in that situation when you didn’t even know your sister was suicidal?
The only point I felt let the novel down was a sub-plot where Laney got pregnant. I felt that by the end, things were too convenient and I would have liked Harrington to take more of a risk and go down one route or the other.
The romance between Jake and Harper is well-developed and paced. I loved the scene when they dance to The Doors and how he looks after her while she’s drunk. There is a moment I hated Jake for, and I wasn’t sure if I ever fully came back round to him after it, but overall I found him an interesting character. With his love of music, he reminded me a little of Owen from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen who is one of my favourite male characters in YA so that is a huge compliment for me.
This book makes you want to jump in a car and drive around the US. It leaves a mark on you as a reader and is a beautiful read that I can’t believe is a debut. I can’t wait for more of Harrington’s work, but Saving June already has a place on my favourites shelf and is the ideal summer read!
I received a free copy of this book from Mira Ink for review. As always my reviews are not affected by the means in which I receive them and are honest.