Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: Nov 2011 (1st Published May 2011)
Pages: 345
Book Source: HarlequinTeen & NetGalley

Synopsis: ‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

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.

You'd think with the amount of YA fiction out there where the story line revolves around the death of a sibling or parent that this would get old. Not that I'm making light of it, far from it. I seem to be drawn to bittersweet fiction like this, especially when it's written in a way that parallels "real life" and Harrington writes in a real-life kinda way ... honest, raw, warts and all.

Mom always used to say, "Why can't you be more like your sister?" But I wasn't interested in being like June, and I definitely didn't want to live in June's shadow. Even if mine was less impressive, at least it was my own."

After the suicide of her older sister June, Harper is understandably a trainwreck. She's angry, confused, devastated and combined with the complicated family dynamics and emotions already in existence it makes for a pretty messy trainwreck. But kudos to Harper for voicing the thoughts that many of us have but don't say, because it's just not the done thing.

“I am so mad at her,” I tell him. It’s hard to admit that. I’m ashamed for being as angry as I am. I mean, she was in so much pain, she had to be, to do what she did, and logically I know it’s not fair of me to hate her for it. But no one said emotions are fair. Part of me still thinks she was a selfish bitch, for bailing on me and our mom and everyone else, for leaving me with nothing but the pieces of so many shattered lives and a guilt that will never, ever go away. “She didn’t even say goodbye, or leave a note, or anything, and I hate her for that. I should’ve seen it coming. I should’ve done something.”

I liked Harrington's portrayal of Harper & Laney's friendship, it's always refreshing to read a YA where the friends actually behave like friends. I liked Jake well enough even though he did come across as a "douche-baggy hipster music snob ..." (Laney's words lol)  but I loved his passion for music. Harper and Jake rub each other the wrong way ... until they don't, and I liked that too.

Harper, Laney and Jakes' road trip across the US to scatter June's ashes in California is an adventure in itself, but it's also a journey of discovery, tears, laughs, friendship, hope and MUSIC ... complete with a van named Joplin :)

What I loved ... was the music talk, Jake is totally into the music of my late teens and early adulthood; The Rolling Stones, ABBA, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Eric Clapton. Music has played such an important part in my life, especially after the death of my baby daughter, music has uplifted and inspired, consoled and comforted, music has been a warm place and a safe harbour.  


"Clapton wrote this song about it, after, and it just – It rips your heart out. It is the best kind of devastating there is. He took his pain and he turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you. 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, can see you through anything.” Jake -  (on Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven)

and make sure you check out Jake’s playlists at the back of the book :))

More favourite quotes:

Jake was right - I'm strong in a way June never was. Because I know that I want to be here. Even with the pain. Even with the ugliness.  

Life goes on, I’m going on, even without her. Not every day hurts. Not every breath hurts.
Maybe that’s all we can really ask for.

An impressive debut novel and an author to watch out for.

Want to know more about Hannah Harrington? ~ check out her blog.

and the Aussie cover is my favourite!! (just saying)


  1. This sounds pretty good! I loveeeeeeee your review on it! :):):):):):):):):):):)

  2. I have a copy of this one! I find myself loving books that have a track list to listen to! This sounds stellar!

  3. I do think I know a blogger who would like to read this one

  4. This has been a very popular book and sounds like a great read

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  5. I haven't heard of this. I'm glad you found some solace in music. Sometimes it just seems to speak to you.

  6. I like the aussie cover better too, and those quotes that you've picked are my favorites as well. Such a great book, and a lovely review!

  7. Oh, you had me at the music list! I love all of those artists, and they do remind me of a special time in my life.

    This book sounds wonderful, and I'm not usually a fan of YA...mainly because the storylines all sound the same to me. This one sounds unique.


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