Saving June

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Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.1  (8)
Characters 
 
4.5  (8)
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Captivating and Emotional
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Saving June was an emotional read, with moments of gut-wrenching sorrow interlaced with lighter, playful moments, that worked together to make a truly memorable reading experience. A slightly unnecessary plot twist, moments of forced meaningfulness and a lacklustre romance did give me pause, but Harrington’s writing remained captivating until Saving June’s final page.

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!
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So emotional
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
When I first set out to read Saving June, I wasn't at the best place in my life. So I shelved it for a bit and waited until I felt more able to tackle the sad content in this book. I picked it back up a few days ago, and instantly fell in love. Hannah Harrington has built a set of characters who are easy to love, and also who are extremely realistic. While Saving June isn't the happiest of stories, it definitely is true to life.

Harper Scott is a character that a lot of people will easily connect with. She is the younger sister, and therefore feels a lot of times like she's in her sister's shadow. For Harper, life is all about being nothing like her older sister. The rebel of the family. However it is when June takes her own life that things really come into focus. I won't ruin anything for you, but what follows is a road trip of the most poignant kind. Harper learns what it means to be a sister, what it means to be an individual, and how sometimes life is just worth living.

What I loved most about Harper is how realistically she deals with her sister's death. She shows blatant and misplaced anger. She exhibits the feelings of depression. She curses June and wonders why she left her behind. Harper goes through everything that a normal, mourning person would and it is beautifully done. This isn't a story about a person who commits suicide, this is a story about the people that they leave behind. By the time I was a few chapters in, I was rooting for Harper. I just wanted everything to be okay again for her.

What I didn't like so much was some of the side stories that mingle in with Harper's journey. Again, no spoilers, but Harper's best friend finds a problem of her own on their trip and I felt like it kind of took away the spotlight from June and Harper. I also wasn't sure about the romance aspect. Jake, for me, was just kind of there. An available love interest. I don't necessarily think it took away from Harper's story line, but for me it didn't really add anything either.

At the end of the day Saving June is a tough read, but one that is well worth your time. Everything you can possibly imagine in a teenage life is explored here, and it is done amazingly well. Grab a box of tissues. You'll need them.
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Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
ISBN: 9781848450950
Publisher: Mira Ink
Pages: 336

‘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 received Saving June by Hannah Harrington from Mira Ink for review. I really enjoyed reading Saving June, even though it wasn’t what I had initially expected. From the blurb, I had expected it to be quite raw, edgy and controversial, but it was actually fairly tame compared to some other YA books within the same genre, (such as Entangled & Torn by Cat Clarke and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver). My favourite character was Harper because of her brutal honesty, wit and sarcasm which made what potentially could have been a very morbid, depressing book into an essential, summery read for all ages! I really like the cover of Saving June as it not only portrays an actual event within the book but, it also represents Harper’s ongoing concealment of her feelings towards both her sister and her sister’s death.

Available at Amazon.co.uk.
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Music & Roadtrips
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Reasons why I really love this book:(In a list!)
-The Characters: Starting with our MC, Harper, who's angsty and sarcastic and is currently dealing with her sister's death. Laney, Harper's best best friend who I would love for a best friend. Jake Tolan, guy who has mysterious ties to June and offers to take them on a road trip. (Which brings us to...
-Roadtrip! Complete with great destinations and pit stops.(Which includes...
-Music! Lots and lots of great music which I have to listen to. There's a bunch of great scenes with concerts, mentions of music, and at the back of the book a great list of them
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Could Be Better
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Originally posted on my blog (be sure to drop by!): http://book-spark.blogspot.com/

Saving June follows Harper Scott, as she learns to live and deal with the sudden suicide of her “perfect” older sister. In this refreshingly simple but raw novel, Harper is devastated when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, without even telling anyone why. With her mother weak and her father gone, Harper, the rebel, the disappointment, must step up to her sister’s place. Although the two sisters weren’t as close as they had been, Harper understands her sister better than others. She is determined to do all she can to give June what she wanted most-to go to California. With her best friend, Laney, and the mysterious boy (Jake) who knew June, she takes her sister’s ashes cross-country to spread them in the waters of California. Who knows? She might even find strength and love…

This book was a very honest portrayal of the loss of a loved one. Harper wasn’t wild with anguish, nor was she hard as a rock (at least not by the end). Still, after reading a book so similar to it in plot, but with added thriller and historical elements, I can’t say it ended up in my list of favorites. Although Harper spent quite a lot of time describing the funeral and all the pain after it, I felt detached, like a third person, especially in the beginning. I couldn’t seem to sympathize with the girl. Harrington isn’t the best at describing loss and pain, but she’s excellent at creating solid, believable characters. Harper was relatable, and Jake was satisfyingly mysterious and intriguing. She’s also really good at tension between the characters. There were curse words in the book, but they seemed appropriate, and the author finds a nice balance with some big words as well.

The scene at the beginning - in June’s room - was very powerful, and I loved it, but the rest of the first third of the book seemed a little too slow-paced, even if it is reality fiction. Anyway, it really started to get good at their first stop – Jake’s friend’s house. It was fun to learn more about Jake, his friends, and his past. I also started liking Harper’s personality after about 150 pages or so. She wasn’t like other kids: she was smart, and she stayed up to date with current events. As she herself said, “I’m not, like, willfully ignorant, the way a lot of the kids I go to school with are.” There’s quite an unexpected turn of events towards the end – merely a side plot, but it was good, and it sped up the pace. I don’t want to say anything more in fear of spoiling it. Jake’s “powerful secret” was disappointing. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but it wasn’t as big a deal as it was made out to be, and frankly, I think both parties in that little incident were acting utterly ridiculous.

The book’s filled with a lot of unnecessary details, like the argument about the extinction of punk between Jake’s brother and his customer. That was a page or two that I would have cut without a backward glance. A lot of what passed in the car was also just insipid details. Another thing I didn’t like was how fast Jake and Harper went from a cute, long-time-coming kiss to what I assume is the young adult version of erotica. That was a bit uncomfortable.

There are tearjerker moments. When Harper finally cried, when she emptied the urn, and again when I read Jake’s song – I shed a tear or two. Tt may just be that I cry easily, but it was because of these moments that this book earned an extra star.

Overall, I liked Saving June. It has the simplest of plots, and yet one of the meaningful. And the ending was just beautiful. Nothing I haven’t heard before, but I recommend it to any general YA reader.

Spark Ideas: How would you deal with the sudden death of a sibling/close relative, especially by suicide? Is it okay to run away to deal with the pain? Do you believe in sex before marriage? How about abortion for teenage mothers?
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