Review Posted on Reading Lark 12/17/11: http://readinglark.blogspot.com/2011/...
Wow. This novel truly blew me away. I was a little nervous when I started it since I had recently read The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. Both novels feature younger sisters dealing with the sudden and unexpected deaths of their older, beloved sisters. However, in The Sky is Everywhere, the older sister dies suddenly from a heart issue while in Saving June, the older sister commits suicide. Honestly other than the deceased older sister element, there is nothing about these books that is the same. Each is a beautiful testament to the stages of grief and paints a portrait of the lives of those left behind.
Saving June held many unexpected and compelling elements. I assumed because this novel was entrenched in the grief process that it was going to be a depressing read. I worried that I might not be in the best state of mind to truly appreciate it. However, while there were certainly depressing moments in this one, the overall theme revolves around the notions of hope and moving forward past the grief. It was much more uplifting than I expected. There also is plenty of musical references and humor to make the read less depressing. There were even moments when I forgot that June's suicide was the impetus behind the plot. The novel became more about Harper, the younger sister, and her quest to honor her sister. I loved watching Harper evolve from start to finish.
The writing is straight to the point and compelling. The dialogue between characters is realistic. The banter between the road trippers was often hilarious and I enjoyed seeing their journey to California unfold. There is so much awesomeness and real issues packed into this one that I am having trouble putting into words just how much I loved this book. One of my favorite aspects was the constant musical influence. Music is something that is very important in my household so I always enjoy reading about characters who love it as much as I do. Although, I really wanted to reach into this one and steal that Jimi Hendrix LP from Jake.
Saving June is a beautiful coming of age story set against the backdrop of family tragedy. The characters are real and flawed; their problems are true to the teenage experience. You can't help but be swept away by them and their stories. Days later, I am still thinking about Harper, Jake, and Laney.
One Last Gripe: Harper's parents fighting over who gets to keep June's ashes and then agreeing to split them in half really bothered me. It frustrates me how selfish parents can often be.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The musical elements and how they were so intricately woven into the fibers of the story
First Sentence: According to the puppy-of-the-month calendar hanging next to the phone in the kitchen, my sister June died on a Thursday, exactly nine days before her high school graduation.
Favorite Character: Harper
Least Favorite Character: Harper's Dad