Thursday, September 29, 2011

Up and Coming: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June
by Hannah Harrington

Release Date:  November 29, 2011

There's a lot of dead sister books out there. That's a lot of grief and a lot of similar plotlines. That's pretty much what I was expecting with Saving June, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Harper's sister June committed suicide in May. Harper had spent her life being bigger, bolder and badder than the straight A's, college-bound, rule following June. Now she's left wondering if she could have been a better sister or at the very least a better listener. She lived in the next room from June, shouldn't she have been able to tell that something was wrong?

Harper's parents are separated and would like to separate June's ashes in the same way they've separated their savings accounts. Harper is having none of it and sets off with her best friend Laney and a Jake Tolan, a boy who showed up at June's funeral with a scowl for Harper but who seems to have known sides of June that Harper is desperate to know more about.

One of the things that I really liked about this book was how it plays with the idea that we are different people to the various people that we know in life (see Every You, Every Me by David Levithan if you want to go deeper into this idea). June seemed completely put together and perfect to Harper, but Jake saw her in sadder moments. It's all very real seeming and made the book hit harder.

It's a road trip book with really strong characters. As you get to know more about Jake, Harper and Laney, you get to like them more and more. The friendship between Laney and Harper is especially stand-out, they are there for each other and allowed to have a decently drama free friendship even in the midst of all the family and relationship storms swarming around them. You can see just how they fit together and what makes their friendship so strong.

A minor thing that I really liked (which is not at all surprising, because I am a sucker for this sort of thing) is Jake and his playlists. They are put together the way you really put together a playlist-- with songs that make sense for the character (thank you Ms. Harrington- thank you). My favorite is the "Say my name mix" which is full of songs that have people's names in the title. You can check out one of these by clicking on the screen shot below.
If you're a fan of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner, or just a fan of a) roadtrips, b) strong characters and, of course, an excellent soundtrack.

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