Lora's Reviews > Saving June

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
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's review
Jan 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: g-ya-realistic, lib-read, music
Recommended to Lora by: Nomes
Recommended for: fans of YA realistic fiction similar to Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and The Sky is Everywhere
Read from January 04 to 06, 2012

"Some people think that a place can save them," I say. "Like if they could just be somewhere else, their lives would be totally different. They could finally be the people they always wanted to be. But to me, a place is just a place. If you really want things to change, you can make them change no matter where you are."

Hannah Harrington's debut, Saving June, begins with Harper Scott stacking casseroles and meringue pies into her refrigerator. Her older sister, June, has just died from a self-inflicted drug overdose. And as with all deaths, people think that food offerings will make it better. But Harper knows that nothing can take away the pain of losing someone you hold so dear, especially someone whose life ended way too soon and for reasons unknown. Harper believes that nothing can make June's death any less painful — until she finds a postcard that reads California, I'm coming home in June's handwriting. She's left with nothing to think but that California is the place where June truly longed to be.
And so, after reluctantly teaming up with Jake Tolan, a boy who not only was close to June but who insists on coming along for the trip with Harper and her BFF Laney, Harper packs up her things along with the urn containing June's remains and heads for California.

Harper's grief is truly gut-wrenching. She's in so much pain from this unforeseeable loss, but she's strong-willed and highly motivated nonetheless. Each time she gets close to cracking from the unbearable sadness that threatens to overwhelm her, she reigns it in and instead chooses to focus on the journey ahead. And what a journey it is! An antiwar protest in Chicago that leads to a girl-on-girl liplock, a rock concert for a band called Robot Suicide Squad, and a black van named Joplin are just some of the crazy/fun aspects of their road trip. Even though the reason behind the trip is sad, Harrington does a wonderful job of making the trip fun and exciting for both the characters and readers alike.

With his trademark black pants, his messy yet oh-so-sexy hair, and his inherent love for all things musical, Jake Tolan makes for an interesting and authentic character who is the perfect yang to Harper's yin. Although only eighteen, Jake's life hasn't been easy, and in snippets we find out just how rough it's been. But Jake isn't about to let his bad upbringing define him.

Harper and Jake's slow-building romance is perfectly written; like a seven-tier wedding cake, it is carefully handled and delicately crafted. Their natural chemistry and casual banter make for some of the best scenes in the book:

"Wow," I say. "You are truly obsessed."
"Yeah, I kinda am," he agrees, grinning. "Without music, life would be a mistake."
"Did you coin that one yourself?"
"Nietzsche did, actually. But it's a common mix-up."

They share secrets, dreams, cigarettes, and the pain of losing June. The sexual tension between them is palpable in some scenes, but it doesn't overshadow the main focal point of the story. In fact, I'd say the romance takes a backseat (no pun intended) to the adventurous and cathartic road trip Harper, Jake, and Laney take.

Music vibrates through every page of Saving June. It is its own life force as you read through these pages, and I found myself using YouTube to keep up with Jake's playlist.

Ultimately, Saving June is about learning to find peace after facing a tragedy, and the maelstrom of conflicting emotions that bombard one's mind after the death of a beloved. And it sends a wonderful message: that you can find love, joy, and happiness — even after devastation.

I look forward to reading more works from Harrington in future.
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Reading Progress

01/05/2012 page 155
48.0% "[image error] Enjoying this so far:)"

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Laura Hi Lora! Hope you like this one! It was one of my favorite reads of the summer! All I wanted to do was jump in the car with the music blaring and go, go, go! :)

Lora Laura wrote: "Hi Lora! Hope you like this one! It was one of my favorite reads of the summer! All I wanted to do was jump in the car with the music blaring and go, go, go! :)"

I haven't gotten very far into it, so the road trip hasn't started yet. It is good so far, though:)

Lora And hey - if you like books with road trips, you should read Amy and Roger's Epic Detour.

Laura Ah, road tripping! Love it! Last summer I went from Memphis to New Orleans—a mini one! :) Thanks for the roadtrip recommendation! That one has been at the top of my pile for while now. Not sure why I keep bumping it. Something new and shinier comes along to distract me. Haha….I am so bad! :D

Aly (Fantasy4eva) I had high expectations when it came to this one. And although they weren't met, I did still enjoy the book. Hope you like it!

Chachic Lovely review, Lora! This one is included in my best of 2011 list. :) Glad you liked it.

Laura Lora! It is SO nice to have you back! I have missed your voice and reviews! Beautiful review! “Music vibrates through every page”—so true! I can still feel it! :) I can’t wait to see what Harrington does next!

Nomes Lora ~ this review is fab <3

and i agree on the palpable sexual tension ;)

Lora Nomes wrote: "Lora ~ this review is fab <3

and i agree on the palpable sexual tension ;)"

Thanks, Nomes! It was your review that really made me want to read this, so thanks for that, also:)

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