Title: Saving June*

Author: Hannah Harrington

Contemporary YA

Published November 22nd 2011 by Harlequin Teen (first published May 1st 2011 in AU)

Goodreads summary:

Everyone’s sorry. But no one can explain why.

Harper Scott’s older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June’s ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going—California.

Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except…Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down—again.

Review:

I started reading Saving June during November, also known as National Novel Writing Month. I was trying to keep up with my TBR to a certain extent and was sure that with the monkey of an unfinished novel on my back, I’d be finishing Saving June later. Much later. But then something happened.

I was sucked in.

The book opens on a very sad note. It’s the day of June’s funeral. We learn a little bit about her through her sister, Harper, who is both a likable and realistic protagonist. June was the golden child, the one who did well in school and would listen to her divorced parents and go to the State school, even though she’s always dreamt of Berkeley and California.

Now, the idea of what was once June sitting on a mantel, stuck in their hometown forever doesn’t work for Harper. She decides to trek across the country and take June where she’s never been, but always wanted to go: California. It’s her last chance to “Save June.”

There are so many things about this book that I loved.

It was definitely a tear-jerker. I mean obviously when someone loses a family member– a close family member, like a sister, there are going to be a lot of emotions to deal with. There’s grief, tears, and anger, but the way that Hannah Harrington wrote Saving June, it’s so realistic. At first, it’s all Harper can think about or focus on, but as life goes on, her attention winds up elsewhere. But the grief still sucker-punches her from time to time.

One of those sucker punches comes in the form of music during the road trip, which is another thing that I loved about this novel. Music isn’t just mentioned; instead, all kinds of music are an integral part of the book. My copy (unsure if it’s in the final since it was a galley) even had a few official playlists for Saving June. There are the fun little moments where ABBA gets some play time, but my favorite parts were when we really see the power that music has to speak to our souls.

But as for the fun? This book also has that in spades. There’s the road trip (who doesn’t love one?), the bickering between Jake and Harper (I have a serious thing for love-hate relationships… I couldn’t get enough of those two), and the friendship between Harper and her best friend, Laney…

Oh. That friendship. I LOVE that friendship. Laney and Harper are actually good friends to each other. It’s not one of those horrible back-stabby kinds of friendship that pop up way too often in YA Lit. They’ve both got some serious issues and they have each other’s backs. It’s that simple, but it is a beautiful friendship.

I think you’ll love this. I know I did. I can’t wait to see more from Hannah Harrington.

Rating: 4/5. This was an amazing debut novel. Hell, this was an amazing novel, full stop. If you’re looking for an emotional contemporary read, be sure to pick up a copy of Saving June. I think fans of Sarah Dessen especially will love this one.

*I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you choose to purchase the book through my provided link, I will receive a small portion of the profit. I’m broke and not above wheedling, but this in no way affected my review.

**I received a copy from the publishers via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my review.