25 August 2012

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

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.
While Saving June didn't stick with me, emotionally, like I thought it would, it was a heart-wrenching read.  The main character, Harper, was immediately captivating and the writing flowed well.  The romance was a bit sketch for me in retrospect, but something about Saving June's presentation came off as unconventional, and I loved it.

I was engrossed by the heartbreaking insight to the pair of sisters: the goddess ascending and the screw up.  While it was riddled with cliches -- the typical "the last thing I said to her was horrible" line from the surviving sister -- Saving June wasn't bogged down by them.  Something about the way Hannah Harrington presented their situation made it seem unique and intriguing.

The romance was intriguing, too, though as I think back on it, I'm not such a big fan.  My heart didn't warm at the romance sparking between Harper and Jake.  There were moments, but not enough to carry over to the days after I finished the book.  I loved their banter, though, and their "easy" friendship that finally built up to a budding romance.  They really seemed compatible for each other and not just forced into the romance by circumstances.

While Harper was a great main character, there were a few things that made me raise my eyebrows.  (Getting wasted out of your mind because you were goaded is not an admirable choice.)  I loved the friendship between Harper and her best friend, Laney, though.  Most contemporaries I come across have a flimsy, cookie cutter best friend, where they seem almost obligatory.  Laney wasn't a throw away character.  She had her own issues that weaved into the main plot and really let me get to know her character.

Hannah Harrington's writing flowed well.  It was clear, concise and easy to understand.  There weren't horrendously long passages of abstract feelings -- everything tied directly into Harper's character and with every passing chapter, I learned more about her.  The way Hannah Harrington wrote gave Harper a really personal cant.

The plot wasn't thriving with originality, but it was edgy.  On the road-trip scale, it doesn't hold a candle to Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, but concentrated more on the personal development of Harper and her relationships between her companions.

While it didn't make me grab for a box of tissues, it captured my emotions.  Saving June was a brilliant debut.  I look forward to Hannah Harrington's following works.

Quotes
I just -- I want -- I don't even know.  I want to scream.  I want to want to cry.  I want to feel like a person again.  I want June here, so she could lecture me on what an idiot I am for picking up such a nasty habit.  I want to be back in Grand Lake, sitting on my roof with her next to me, smoking one of my mom's stolen cigarettes, knowing that my sister is there without even having to look. (p. 169)
Book Info

  • pages - paperback, 322
  • published - November 2011
  • publisher - HarlequinTeen
  • genre - contemporary fiction
  • rating - 4/5
  • received via - Harlequin Teen Panel
More Info
Hannah's... Website | Blog | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads