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 demeanour 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. From Amazon UK
When I picked up Saving June, despite being aware that it was about travelling with the purpose of spreading Harper's dead sister's ashes, as it was a road trip book full of music references, I just assumed it would be a kind of light, summery type novel. Something I really needed. I was wrong - Saving June isn't light and summery, it's highly emotional. Yet it was absolutely what I needed.
Harper's older sister has committed suicide, and no-one knows why. There was no note, and June had everything going for her, she was beautiful, and was the nicest, seemingly happiest person around. So why kill herself? Harper is having a hard time coming to terms with it. Her mother is failing to cope, her absent father doesn't seem to care, and Harper just doesn't know what to do with all her questions, her sadness or her anger. But there's one thing she can do; June always, always wanted to live in California, but never got the chance, so, in the hopes that it will help her, Harper decides to take June's ashes to California and scatter them in the ocean along with her best friend Laney and Jake, a mysterious guy who apparently knew June, but keeping how and why to himself.
Saving June is absolutely incredible. Harper is a brilliant character; rebellious, but because that's what's expected of her, because she can never match up to the perfection that was her older sister - yet there's no real bitterness felt towards her sister because of it. She has so many questions, questions that will never be answered because her sister is just gone. How can you deal with that? Gone, poof, willingly, without any explanation as to why. It's not sinking in as well as it should, and it's left Harper so angry. How could June just leave her? How could she be so selfish? And her guilt; how on earth is it she didn't know? Why didn't she see? Was there anything to see? Harper has a storm of emotion inside her, and no idea what to do with it. But taking her sister's remains to the one place she always wanted to be is her way of making things up to June, for not being able to help her while she was alive. Saying that, Harper is also a tough cookie, and is great at looking after herself. She has a great sense of humour with awesomely witty comebacks to the crap she gets from time to time from Jake, and is the type of character I could imagine being friends with. She's just so easily likeable.
Jake I loved from the word go. That messy hair and that glare just did it for me, as did his knowledge of music. Don't you just love a guy with a passion? He is super honest with Harper, to the point that sometimes she really dislikes him, but his honesty is what Harper needs, what helps her look at things differently, and think in ways she hadn't. Through the road trip and her conversations with Jake, Harper experiences things that help; she understands more about herself and her sister, and although they don't answer any questions, it's helps her to deal just a little bit. Jake is just awesome, and I love him.
And the music! I've never read a book which is so full of music references before, and it was just awesome! I would stop reading every now and then when an important song that meant something to a character or a certain point in the book, or was a catalyst that started a conversation or revelation, and would just Youtube and listed. Most of the time, the songs weren't really my cup of tea, but it added so much more to the reading experience. I was reading and listening, and there's something about a story talking about something I can look up that makes it that more credible. Jake talks about these songs with such knowledge and enthusiasm, that when listening to them, you can understand where he's coming from - that makes Jake seem so much more like a real person than other characters in other books normally, because he's not just talking to and educating Harper, he's also educating me, and his words resonate with me and make an impression through understanding. Oh my god, it was just awesome. And he is totally a man after my own heart, because he said some things about music that I totally agree with, and oh, I want to give him the biggest hug just for seeming to get what goes on in my head. For example:
'"What I'm trying to say is, 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 came out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I'm not alone. If you look at it that way, music... music can see you through anything."'Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Jake, you are awesome, and I am so going to listen to the soundtracks of the mix CDs that are included in the back of the book. I need more of this story!
P185 - emphasism my own.
I got so much from this book; the highs and the lows, the deeply emotional plot that brought me to tears, the romance that was just so sweet and so right, the music that opened my eyes... the pure enjoyment of reading such an amazing book! Saving June is going right up there with my favourites! I definitely need to read more music/road trip books, and I definitely need to read more by Hannah Harrington. I am just so completely in love with Saving June, and you need to fall in love with this book too.
Thank you to Mira Ink for the review copy!
Published: 1st June 2012
Publisher: Mira Ink
Buy on Amazon US
Hannah Harrington's Website