Harrington’s a master of characterization. Each character was fleshed out in bits and pieces, as their separate backgrounds were woven into the storyline’s dialogue seamlessly. While I started off Saving June believing I was about to experience some pretty stereotypical characters, Harrington proved me wrong by creating complex and interesting characters that shared only one common theme – a feeling of abandonment. I enjoyed watching them learn about themselves and their limits, watching them push each other to their breaking points, and then coming out stronger because of it.
I really liked Harper. She was sassy and sarcastic, loyal to a fault, and she didn’t take crap from anyone. She wasn’t afraid of speaking her mind, at least when it meant defending those she cared about, and her insecurities about her own self-worth had my heart aching. I loved that she was angry with June, because I was angry with June! How could you leave your younger sister behind, without explanation, without telling her that it wasn’t her fault? Her pain over being abandoned and her guilt for not seeing the signs were a constant presence, and I admired her strength in carrying that kind of weight.
There were definitely a couple things about Harper that I didn’t quite understand though. Like how she didn’t recognize The Rolling Stones, but was able to hold her own during conversations about Nietzsche and nihilism. Surprising, considering she’s from a small town in Michigan that Starbucks can’t even be bothered to set up shop in. And her feelings for Jake were also surprising, considering the amount of time she spent both mentally chastising him for being annoying and actually calling him out for being an asshole. Don’t get me wrong – their steamier moments together had my pulse racing! But that’s because Harrington has a handle on writing, not because I necessarily believed in their chemistry.
The one thing I did dislike about Harrington’s writing in Saving June was it’s almost forced nature. Everything was…too much. Harper waxed too poetic during her moments of reflection, making some of the more touching scenes border on insincerity. Jake was too intense in his love for music, in his need to shove his passion down everyone’s throats, and it made him come across slightly pretentious. Laney’s shocking admission was…unnecessary, especially considering the final outcome, and I didn’t understand why it was included at all – it did nothing to further the plot. Saving June was trying too hard to accomplish something, something insightful or meaningful, and I think it somewhat failed because it was trying so hard.
Even with its forced nature, I really enjoyed Saving June. When it succeeded, the emotions were raw and palpable and I really enjoyed the dynamic between the three main characters. With an awesome soundtrack to boot, I’d definitely recommend giving Saving June a shot!