Hannah Harrington’s novel Saving June is a gripping story of how a family, and more specifically a younger sister, copes with the suicide of her perfect older sister. Harper is the one who finds the lifeless body of her sister June. With no note left behind, she struggles with her inner conflicts and emotions while her dysfunctional family deal with the grief in their own ways. While looking through her deceased sister’s desk drawers, Harper finds something that sets the wheels in motion to go on a road trip to the West coast. With her best friend and a mysterious boy as her travelling companions, Harper embarks on a road trip across the country, full of adventures that her sister never got the chance to experience.
Wow. The theme of the novel is a dark one – suicide and grief – but Harrington manages to weave an in depth tale full of laughter, tears and some lessons on great music. The reader feels the conflicted emotions alongside Harper as she struggles with the despair of losing her sister, with the fact that she couldn’t shed a tear over it. Her misguided adventures full of good intentions attempt to lighten the mood on an otherwise somber voyage.
I received Saving June via NetGalley and had heard a lot of buzz from other book bloggers about it. It didn’t disappoint. Right from the get-go, I was captivated by the well-paced story. Harrington’s writing has a natural flow, easy for readers to keep pushing onward to find out what happens. The characters are dynamic, with such depth that you feel attached to each of the 3 travelers. Harper (which, by the way, I love that name) is a refreshingly strong & realistic character. I say refreshing because it’s nice to not constantly see girly-girls as the main character. It’s nice to see Harper have some spunk to her and not just drooling over every boy that walks by (leave that to her best friend!) Really, my only frustration with the book came near the end, where Harper has an outburst directed towards one of her fellow travelers, whom she had just spent some intense and meaningful moments with. Granted, the circumstances might have warranted it, but I just felt it an unnecessary (but admittedly, plot-forwarding) hitch to the nearly-ending story. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Brilliantly written, capturing all the facets of grief and that it’s the people around you that can help you heal the most.
Saving June is available in stores November 22, 2011
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)