As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that it was going to be something that I would enjoy. I'm a big fan of contemporary books, especially if they have the ability to make me cry (weird?). I am glad to say that Saving June was everything I wanted it to be - captivating, fun, hopeful and heartbreaking, all at the same time. This will hopefully be one of the top contemporary YA reads of the year.
We are sent on a road trip through America with Harper, her best friend, Laney, a mysterious guy called Jake Tolan and June's ashes. The story is narrated by Harper and focuses on coming to terms with her sister, June's suicide. I am happy to say that I thought that the topic was dealt with in a realistic and tasteful way. Although I do find books based on mental-health issues very interesting, I do sometimes feel wary of them as they can easily be handled in an incorrect manner - thankfully this wasn't the case for this book. I thought that the characters all handled the situation well, yet differently, in their own ways and it was interesting to see how the different parties reacted to the news. I do wish we could've learned a little bit more about June and her decision, but what we did learn with Harper was enjoyable. We definitely learned a lot about Harper herself.
All of the characters that we were introduced to in this novel felt well presented and each had their own unique personality, something that is very important, and although they were different, they were all relatable in some way. Harper is our protagonist, and as aforementioned, grieving over her sister. I thought that Harrington did a phenomenal job of portraying Harper's grief in an atypical manner. Harper was seen by her parents and aunt as 'rebellious', but that didn't really seem true to me - it just looked like she was doing what she thought was right during her life, and had her own opinion on things. Her relationship with Laney, her best friend was fantastic. It was clear that they both supported each other, despite their differences in thoughts. I loved that Laney was very forthright and she did what she want - she oozed confidence whilst still having some fragility, was very fun and I can see a lot of people loving her.
We met a whole bunch of different people during the road-trip and experienced a lot of different things, mostly due to meeting Jake Tolan, a boy who had a connection with June before she died. I really liked Jake for the most part and I thought that his passion for music was wonderful. I've read a few books that have been music-orientated but didn't like them - Harrington successfully managed to connect me with Jake as I could certainly relate to a lot of the things he said about music. As a love interest, I can understand why Harper was attracted to him - he was respectful yet snarky and there was a good amount of chemistry between them both. Trying not to include spoilers - I did feel a little irked by him towards the end, though I could understand his decision at the same time.
I like listening to music for much of the same reasons as Jake - to quote:
"It's just nice, I guess. Knowing that someone else can put into words what I feel. That there are people who have been through things worse than I have, and they come out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, ******-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I'm not alone. If you look at it at that way, music... music can see you through anything.""
I thought it was SO cool that this book had not one, but three playlists included. I absolutely loved being able to listen to the songs that captured the mood of the characters at the time and it certainly added another form of 'connection' to them. Harrington didn't just say that Jake felt these things, but she proved it by creating some amazing soundtracks to back it all up. Reading this book, along with listening to the soundtracks, really made it feel as though we were having an experience with the characters. I felt pure emotion whilst reading and admit to tearing up as the book came to a close.
Overall, this was a very powerful, emotional yet enjoyable story. It didn't just feel like I was reading a book - even if it is an overused phrase, I totally felt as though I was taking a journey with Harper, Laney and Jake. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to any young adults or adults. I think that this is a story that will stay with me for quite a while.show more
by Stephanie Forster (Stepping out of the Page)