Saving June by Hannah Harrington
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. (Goodreads)
In the aftermath of her older sister’s suicide, Harper Scott is barely trudging by, still trying to make some sense of it all. June was the star child—intelligent, beautiful, seemingly unfazed by everything, sure to go anywhere she wished in life—while Harper was The Other One; the truant one, the one with the attitude, the one who’s somewhat less together. So how could June, who had the love and approval of everyone, how could she do it? How could she end her life?
Harper ends up searching June’s room, looking for solace or comfort or some sort of clue to explain what drove her sister over the edge. There was never a note, never a sign, no explanation. Instead Harper finds tiny clues to show that there was another side to June that she’d never known. There’s a mixed CD from a mysterious boy named Jake. There’s a postcard of California. And there’s hope.
Suddenly Harper knows what she needs to do. She needs to help June realize her dream of going to California. She needs to find a car and get June’s ashes there. And the mixed CD guy? He needs to help. So Harper, Jake (that’s Mixed CD guy) and Harper’s amazing BFF Laney, pile into Jake’s beloved piece of crap van and take a road trip. Of course, this is a sad road trip. It’s not all fun and games. And they sort of have to run away to do it. And Harper has to steal June’s ashes. It’s all very traumatic because Harper is so sad and lost, and yet she’s so determined to do this.
And it there are so many sad moments on this journey. And so many great ones. And moments of growing up. And moments of humor and of pain. Because like life, it’s not just about the destination, right?
This book is all about amazing characters. Though the subject matter is tough and sounds very depressing, it really isn’t. Harrington found a way to delve into Harper’s pain and her regret while still showing a certain hope in helping June achieve something she never could in life. And one of the things I really loved was that Harper really doesn’t see herself, she only sees June. Like somehow, even though she’s gone, June still takes the limelight. But as the reader, Harper’s humor, her drive, and her tendency to be grumpy and sarcastic all make her so endearing. It takes forever for her to actually see who she is and to realize that she is not a lost cause.
Jake is a solid character too because he isn’t quite what he seems. He gives off an initial bad boy impression, but he really isn’t that guy. He has layers of goodness (and many jerkoff moments) and I felt that I really had a chance to get to know him. The tension and the tingly moments between him and Harper are so believable because it all evolves slowly and naturally.
Finally, I loved Laney. She was the comic relief and the opposite of Harper in many ways. She showed such pure devotion to her best friend that I just wanted to hug her. I wanted to be her bestie.
The whole story, including the actual road trip (complete with tourist stops) is excellent. There are great discussions about music and life, but above all it’s the relationships and their emotional pull that got me.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 Read it!
I’d like to thank Harlequin Teen and Net Galley for providing me an e-galley for review. Thank you!