Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: e-ARC via NetGalley, also available in Paperback, 336 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Saving June is an emotional, gripping and romantic read and is my favorite kind of book. The characters are distinct and interesting, and the story captured my attention from beginning to end. Though the book covers a heavy topic, it is also a book about healing, growth and self-discovery that manages to be uplifting as well.
Harper Scott has just lost her older sister June to suicide. Harper has always felt second best to her seemingly perfect sister and that she was the glue holding the family together. Her family is reeling from her shocking death, and June did not leave a note of explanation. While going through June’s belongings Harper finds some clues that indicated June dreamed of moving to California. She plans to run off with her best friend Laney and scatter June’s ashes in the golden state as her final tribute to her sister. Jake, a boy with a mysterious connection to June, wants to accompany them on their journey.
The book continues with the characters getting to know themselves and each other better through their epic cross-country road trip. They get acquainted through their musical selections and by making some detours along the way.
I appreciated the uniqueness of Harper’s character and her tough nature. Her world is shattered but she can’t bring herself to cry over June. She is torn between her divorced parents, and doesn’t feel she is able to live up to June and replace her as the support system to her mother. She is fearless though and has a great sense of humor. She is the photographer of the group and documents their adventures. Her friendship with Laney feels very realistic, even though they are complete opposites. Laney is more extroverted and reckless, but is also a devoted friend to Harper.
The romance between Jake and Harper is slow building and sweet. You get the sense that they get each other, and feel comfortable enough to be themselves even though they have just met. They have great chemistry and an easy banter that makes their scenes memorable.
And what road trip would be complete without music? Each member of the trio has different musical tastes, but Jake is the one with the most eclectic taste who likes to school the girls on different musical icons. Jake also works in a record store and plays guitar to continue the musical theme of the book. The musical element made the story even more compelling for me and I was pleasantly surprised to see Jake’s playlists at the back of the book.
The writing flows effortlessly and with an even pace. The contemporary story is realistic and the characters are well defined and believable. It has a similar vibe to Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, another road trip book with a great soundtrack. The light-hearted moments, friendship and romance balance out the grieving story so it never gets too heavy. This is an impressive first novel by Hannah Harrington and I’ll be sure to look for her other books. Saving June hits stores November 22.
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