Publication: 22nd November 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
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.
I was hesitant going into this, because I haven't read contemporary fiction for many years. However, it's had such good reviews that I just had to give it a go. It reminds me of Saving Francesca, another favourite of mine, in writing style, issues dealt with and in the characters as well.
I find the concept of suicide really interesting; both in the sense of people's motivations for it and the effects it has on those left behind. I'm a big believer that no one, no matter how close they are to you, can truly know exactly what goes on in your head. Saving June looks at all these things in a mature, realistic and meaningful way.
The teenage characters are some of the most realistic I've read in a while. I genuinely felt like they could be real people, living real lives. The situations they were in and their experiences could sometimes be a little cliche for teen books- but everything just felt so organic. I really liked Harper. I got her straight away, her crisis of faith, her inability to express or even truly feel her emotions-I just really got her. Funnily enough, I think I'm most similar to her dead sister--which may be slightly morbid. As far as the other characters go, naturally I loved Jake. Complicated, complete with alternative music taste and a facade of an uncaring, unruffled boy, he was an ideal love interest. I loved his interactions with Harper, how their relationship developed and how he released information. I also really liked Laney, though her whole outlook on life bugged me slightly (I'm totally not a fatalist) but the same time it was so realistically teenage that I forgave it.
I loved all the discussions in this book, the religious musings, the philosophical and political debates. I loved the way they were slipped in, mentioned in true teen lexicon and how they tied in with the overarching theme of the book and were so relevant to the events. Being a total existentialist I naturally loved the Sartre and Neitzsche references. The references to sex, underage drinking and other 'controversial' issues never felt forced to me, or included to get across some view or opinion of the author, they just felt like teenagers doing and talking about what teenagers do. This is a hard thing to pull off a lot of the time.
A lot of people have mentioned the music, and how it all ties in with the plot. Whilst this wasn't a main attraction for me, I could appreciate it as music is such a major factor in a lot of young people's lives, with songs and lyrics taking on almost biblical importance. I did like the inclusion of the playlists at the end of the novel, it'd be cool to reread the book listening to the songs as the characters do.
The language was beautiful in it's simplicity, Harper's feelings were tackled with great sensitivity and skill and I appreciated all the little nuances and the occasional bit of purple prose.
The end quarter really got me, I'll admit I was slightly choked up whilst reading this, but being in a public place I had to keep a check on my emotions. This is a fantastic discovery of teenage emotions, identity and experience. It's a quest for answers, for resolution and for solace. It handles so many issues in a heartwarming and heartfelt way-parts of it really tug at you and other parts are just so sweet. It's achingly good, in that way that makes you want to cry, laugh, kiss all the characters and throw the book across the room simultaneously. It's called Saving June, but really it's Saving June, Harper, Laney, Jake and Readers. It's a beautiful story and one I will be actively encouraging everyone I've ever met to read.