“What I’m trying to say is, it’s just nice, I guess, knowing that someone else can have been through things worse than I have, and they came out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I’m not alone. If you look at it that way, music…music can see you through anything”
– Jake Tolan
I’ve been sorting through my thoughts all day as to best convey my feelings for this book; nonetheless, I’d like to thank Netgalley and HarlequinTeen for the opportunity to read this.
Now, getting into the actual plot of the novel, Saving June starts out with June’s wake. June, the main character’s (Harper) older sister has just committed suicide at a very young age (18, I think). To give you the rundown, Jane from what is portrayed of her through other characters is the dream child. From the looks to the grades, June was as Harper pointed out quite a few times “perfect”. Except for the fact that she commits suicide…so go figure, but yeah, she’s just about infallible in the eyes of every character in this book. Harper, on the other hand, is more of the rebel child. It’s not so much that she’s a rebel, but rather a non-conformist. Whilst others seem to go with the flow and accept what may be socially acceptable or expected, Harper does her own thing, no mind to whether or not that insults people, especially her Aunt Helen (*snickers*). Which is exactly why Harper thinks that the best way to offer June closure would be to drive her ashes all the way to California. her sister’s dream city.
Enter in her best friend Laney and the quite enigmatic Jake Tolan. We are first introduced to Jake Tolan at June’s wake. But it isn’t until Laney and Harper search June’s room, finding the mix cd that was playing when June committed suicide that Harper makes the connection that Jake knew June. Jake was definitely music obsessed. If the reader didn’t notice it from the mix cd’s or the fact that he works at a record store, the point was driven home during the entire road trip. As Harper points out (during a somewhat awkwardly funny moment), when it comes to music, Jake has a “one track mind”. And I loved it! This book is very much music driven, and it works. Jake reminded me of a male version of Peyton Sawyer from One Tree Hill. To him music wasn’t just something enjoyable; it had the power to define a moment, set a mood or get you through the best and worst of times. Which is exactly what it does for Harper; through Jake’s music, Harper can cope with the anger and sadness that seem to overwhelm her and define herself as something other than what people think of her. I loved the banter between these two characters! It was downright hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud quite frequently throughout this novel. Yet at the same time, Jake knew when to be Harper’s rock, getting her through her issues without hovering. Laney, Harper’s best friend was also a great character. With her easy manner and particular way of viewing the world, she usually seemed to diffuse the situation when things between Harper and Jake or in general got too intense. I really wouldn’t mind having such a loyal friend, I mean only so many people would drop everything and literally follow you on such a crazy adventure. The only weird thing about her was the amount of time she slept in the novel, I know its weird to point it out and that because of it Jake and Harper could interact that much more, but yeah, there is only so much someone can sleep.
Now, the idea of the road trip (from Michigan to California) was great, but the execution was brilliant! Though the actual time during which the road trip took place was short (about a week or a little more I estimate), Hannah Harrington wrote her story in such a way that it said so much without feeling overwhelming. Her writing was great and her musical influences just made the story flow that much more. My only complaint would be that at times, some situations seemed to go from 0 to 60 (the whole flat tire and later Harper’s reaction being the best example). I get that Harper was going through a devastating time, but between her and Jake’s mood swings and somewhat abrupt actions, my head was left spinning more than a few times. Also, to me it felt as though some things were left in the dark (such as June’s relationship with Jake’s friends and why everything was so hush, hush with them). Still it was a great debut and I look forward to see what more Hannah Harrington can bring to the table. As far as contemporary or coming of age novels go, this one was refreshing and full of emotion, giving a new spin on the whole road trip storyline.Consensus
: As this book touches some more mature themes, it is definitely a read for older teens. Still, for fans of author’s such as Sarah Dessen or YA contemporary in general, pick this up. The story and the music will suck you in, leaving you with a pleasant feeling and more than a few music recommendations when all is said and done.