When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.
The characters were real. Not a single one of them was perfect (in a nothing is wrong with them way). Harper feels guilty for not seeing that her "perfect" sister was about to commit suicide. She was the one who found her sister, and is now angry at June for not even leaving a note to explain why. Harper's best friend, Laney, is always there for Harper, no matter what. And after Harper's mother and her judgmental aunt aren't there for her like she needs them to be, she turns to Laney to help her figure out how to get June's ashes to California (June wanted to move there). At the wake, Harper meets Jake, a boy she's never seen before, and she wonders why he is there. When Jake insists that he drive Laney and Harper across the country to California, she agrees.
The road trip was written perfectly. I enjoyed how the road trip wasn't rushed, they three of them took their time, seeing sights, eating local foods, even participating in a protest in Chicago. I certainly enjoyed the stop in St. Louis very much since that is where I'm from! :) As they cross the country, Jake and Harper start to form something more and Harper must decide if she knows him well enough to trust him with her heart.
I thought the story had a wonderful pace and when it ended, I didn't want it to. Harper's story is a heart felt, gut wrenching coming of age story. By far the best contemporary book I've read! You need to read this book!
For me, I think the biggest problem was “show, don’t tell.” This story seemed to do a lot of telling and very little showing, which is surprising for a book that’s written in first person narrative. The main character Harper was written to be strong and stubborn, sort of angsty - actually, she’s supposed to have a whole lot of angst. Yet, what I saw was a girl who referenced to a whole lot of angst, but showed very little. This is also a girl who is dealing with the death of her beloved sister and the only time you feel as though Harper has any emotion toward her sister, it’s when she randomly bursts into tears at what feels like very convenient times in the novel.
There are also many things that I felt were never wrapped up. We never really know what happens to Harper’s parents, or her aunt. Laney’s problem seems to resolve itself with a nice bow on top, but we never get to really see why. I felt many opportunities were missed as well, including a chance to actually see some type of real emotion from Harper at the end and quite possibly actual bonding between her and Jake. It’s written there but, again, it’s just kind of summarized as part of something that happened - yet, we never have the chance to see it.
Despite these things, I did actually enjoy reading Saving June. Harrington’s writing is engaging and keeps it easy to read. There were some moments in the story that made me laugh out loud, and even some parts that did tug at my heart. And though I did have issues with Harper, the characters themselves seemed to be authentic. Even if it was more told than shown, Harper’s grief seemed genuine to me. I also loved Laney’s obsession with James Dean and other movie stars that died in their prime, as well as Jake’s love for music.
Overall, this was a book that I did enjoy reading as a whole and I would definitely say it’s worth the read.
Harper enlists the help of her best friend Laney on this road trip and they also have an uninvited guest - Jake. Jake is a stranger to Harper but someone who claims to have known June well and even though she's hesitant at first, she allows him to come along in the hopes that maybe he can help her figure out why June made the choice she did. What ends up happening is nothing like Harper expects but might just be exactly what she needs.
The characters in this story are complex yet relateable. I felt like I could put a name of someone I know in real life to each one. Harper seems to be the typical angst ridden teen with goth like tendencies but as the layers of her heart get peeled back you begin to see that she's created this self protective wall because she's had too. At one point she explains that her mother loved June too much and her not enough. How sad is that?! June has definitely been the "golden" daughter in this family and they've made the mistake of expecting Harper to be "just like your sister" instead of who she was created to be. As a result, she's lived up to their expectations of her which sadly, haven't been very high. What they've failed to see is how selfless, honest and caring she is. She hides behind her sarcasm and snarky foul mouth but she's the first one to give up what she wants in order to appease someone else's feelings. She's stronger than she gives herself credit for and while she makes some poor choices along her road trip through grief, one can't help but wonder if she'd even make them at all if her family loved and supported her the way they should.
Laney is Harper's BFF! She's smart, beautiful and has parents who are well off but who pay her very little attention, only caring that she keeps her grades up. This effective parenting style works so well that is forces Laney to go "looking for love in all the wrong places". She tends to make friends easily and this is something that Harper admires about her, being able to assimilate into any group or social situation without feeling awkward. She loves Harper like a sister and is fiercely protective of her which is always a good quality to have in a friend. Laney's carefree lifestyle catches up to her eventually and we also see that she too is different than what she projects to the outside world.
Then there's Jake... Jake shows up at the wake (hey, that rhymes!) and proceeds to simultaneously tweak Harper's interest with what he claims to know about June (even though he's not like anyone June would ever have hung out with) and tick her off at the same time with his attitude and his hotness. He and Harper have this hilarious and no holes barred banter that had me in tears of laughter. (The "Dateline" conversation was one of my favorites!) He's tall and lean with amazing green eyes (the first thing Harper notices) and hair that looks like he's cut it himself. He's like a Jedi master when it comes to music and prefers songs that speak to him. He's a complicated guy who drives Harper crazy one minute while setting her heart a flutter the next but he too has a story that is almost as heartbreaking as Harper's...almost.
Aunt Helen is Harper's aunt and honestly, she gives Christian's a bad name. Many times I cringed while reading this, wanting to smack her and hug Harper but I had to remember that people like her are also hurting in some way and would benefit more from my hug and prayers than my smack. (So maybe just an air smack to remind Aunt Helen that Jesus would NOT approve of her treatment of Harper? Yeah, probably not...)
There is heartbreak, pain, loss and healing in this book and several lessons to be learned - like not being too quick to judge a person by their outward appearance. Just because a person may seem like they have it all together or they're happy doesn't mean that they are. Every single person has insecurities and sometimes you have to dig deeper, past the clothes, the makeup, the walls people put up in order to see the heart of someone. Another lesson? Don't be afraid of life. To love. To hurt. To feel. To have faith. It's what makes us who we are and how we're able to connect with one another. Don't. Be. Afraid.
The soundtrack listings at the end were a personal favorite of mine and I was happy to see such a great mix. (no "Mix CD" pun intended) I also agree with Jake when he was explaining to Harper how good music speaks to him when he doesn't have the words himself...I feel the exact same way.
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!
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.
Publisher: Mira Ink
‘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.
Harper who is June’s sister isn’t like a typical teenage girl she’s sort of like the rebel daughter. She’s always being categorized as June and she doesn’t like that she can never be like June and even though she loves her sister she doesn’t want to. Harper was by far my favorite character even though she seemed like a Goth sort of girl she still had feelings and a spark sort of. My favorite thing about her is that even though she and her sister didn’t always get along she still risks everything to give June her dream of going to California.
Laney who is Harpers best friend is the type of best friend that is in every book basically which doesn’t bother me at all because she’s my favorite type of best friend. She’s the sweet always there type but also she has her own life and parties and does all the things a normal teen would do. She’s always there for Harper in every way and if I had to vote on favorite book best friend it would be Laney because out of all my friends I probably couldn’t get them to go to California with me if I needed to.
On to Jake now he was pretty mysterious throughout the whole book and I really enjoyed that. I pictured him as this hot guy whose into all kinds of music which is cool. I’m not sure about you guys but personally I wanted to see him and Harper together the whole time which is why when it finally happened I had to fight the urge to jump up and down. They’re such a cute couple they fit together. I wish I could say more but I’m really trying to cut back on spoilers!
Overall I give the book 5 out of 5 stars because It was fantastic. This was the first road trip book I’ve ever read before and I really enjoyed it. I recommend this novel to anyone who needs an to cry a little who needs a tad of steamy romance and an awesome best friend! I can say I’ll be picking up more road trip books and Hannah Harrington books in the future.
-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
I loved everything about it. Everything from the characters, the plot, to the way the author delivered her story. It was perfect, and really set the mood. Combining a story about the death of a girl’s sister with a road trip, Saving June’s different from the books I’ve read. It’s a darker, more edgier contemporary book. And unique.
I was caught up in the pages. This was one of those books that you just fall in love with. There are flawed, well-rounded, realistic characters that are easily like-able and relate-able, and an easy plot line. Saving June had more of a character-driven plot line, and the way the author wrote the story really suited the mood.
Both bittersweet and funny, with moments that made me laugh out loud and somber, sad moments that made me want to cry, Saving June took me on a emotional roller coaster all around the place. Saving June is a story about family and self-discovery. It’s about dealing with the guilt, and moving on, while never really forgetting those that won’t be able to move on with you. With both sad and humorous moments, music, and a tinge of romance, Saving June was everything I wanted and more.
“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that's what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.” -Jake! :)
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?