Rummanah Aasi
 Ever since I read Nic's review of Saving June by Hannah Harrington, I had my eye on the book. When the opportunity to join the Saving June book tour arrived, I jumped at the chance to read it. Saving June is another good addition to the ongoing list of books that discuss grief in YA.

Description: Harper Scott's life changes forever after her sister, June, commits suicide. Harper discovers that her sister always wanted to go to California and so to honor her sister's memory, Harper and her best friend embark on an impromptu road trip. Things take an interesting turn when a mysterious boy who seems to have known June better than anyone knew insists on joining Harper and her best friend on their trip.

Review: I can't exactly pinpoint why I couldn't connect with this book. It's possible that I've read this type of book before and can't really pick out from the crowd. Generally, I don't mind a "sad book" as long as it stirs some kind of an emotion in me, but I really didn't feel anything while reading Saving June mainly because it didn't have enough depth for me.
  Harper is sixteen years old and she’s just lost her older, perfect, over-achieving sister June. Like many people, Harper only knew the exterior image of June but she's come too late to realize that really her sister had a hidden sadness that no one really understood. When Harper finds a mysterious mix CD in June’s room, it leads her to Jake, an eighteen year old music lover who has a knack for classic rock. As Harper begins to understand her sister, she hatches a wild plan to fulfill June’s last dream: to go to California.
   I had a hard time conjuring up a picture of Harper in my mind. She’s a girl who rebels in a knee-jerk reaction to her sister’s perfection. It's possible that Harper only acts that way because that's what is expected of her. She doesn’t have any deeply held beliefs or even her own taste in music. She came across as a sponge absorbing personalities of others but with no identity of her own. To me, I found her to be deeply insecure and have low self worth, which would have been fine if the author chose to explore this part of her character more. As a reader, we are repeatedly told how strong, stubborn, and so much healthier than her sister, but I didn't see it.
   Saving June is suppose to be Harper's journey through grief and self discovery, yet the book seems to be going into two different directions. The grief plot line is strong in the first few chapters of the book. I thought the opening scenes of June's funeral was well done. As the book continues and the plan is hatched to go to California, however, Harper's grief becomes secondary (more like in the background) to the love story angle featuring Jake. 
 Harper's grief didn't ring true to me. We see her run and collapse in tears many times. If she didn’t didn't this, I wouldn't have known if she is still grieving. And if she didn’t engage in reckless behavior such as drinking, smoking, and joining mosh pits, I wouldn't have known that she is full of angst.
The author had a lot of opportunities to depict emotional catharsis, but they are either ignored completely or magically solved.
  Needless to say, the grieving plot line fell completely flat for me. Thankfully, the romance between Harper and Jake held my attention. Their relationship grows steadily as they spend more time with one another and for the most part, I thought it what was somewhat realistic. I like the fact that Jake wasn't perfect. He too has some family baggage, which I wished the author explored more. His passion for music came out strong in the book too and I think all music lovers could easily relate to him. There were two things that bothered me about Jake. The first is that he's suppose to be this walking encyclopedia of music, but it seems as if he only listens to Top 40 classic rock. I mean who hasn't heard of The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, or Janis Jopin before? The second is that I really wanted to hand this guy Nicorette gum or at least breath freshner because he smokes like a fiend. I couldn't help but get squirrely every time he and Harper kissed. Personally, I don't find smoking guys attractive.
  Overall while I didn't hate this book, I thought it was okay in general. I laughed in a few places, I enjoyed a few quotes in the book, and there were swoony moments between Harper and Jake. I didn't have too much trouble finishing it. I would recommend this book to those who want to read about grief, death, and music without being overly heavy. 

 Again, I think my problem of the book could be me. If you're still on the fence about reading this one, I would definitely read another reviews on the Saving June blog tour. I know many others really enjoyed the book and couldn't get enough and I may be the only one who had a difficult time getting this book under my skin so take my review with a grain of salt.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, underage drinking and drug usage, as well as a semi-explicit sex scene. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.


If you like this book try: Hold Still by Nina LaCour, The Sky is Everywhere by Janet Nelson
8 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Hm. I love the sound of the romance in this one, I like when my love interests aren't perfect and the relationship takes a while to develop (Ethan and Merit anyone?). The grieving aspect does sound problematic however, and I can see how it would have prevented you getting really involved with the story. Fantastic review Rummanah!


  2. danya Says:

    Aw, I'm sorry to hear this one didn't live up to expectations! I've been seeing quite a few positive reviews so it's nice to get a different perspective. It's a pity Harper's emotions didn't ring true for you, since her reaction to her sister's death is obviously a very important aspect of the book. And I totally agree with you, smoking is just not attractive :(


  3. Well, a book I loved may not be for someone else and vice versa, so that is why I love all perspectives on a book.

    I think the grieving plot line would make it or break it for me. I can see why it didn't work for you. I think this is a great review!


  4. Oh, darn, this seems like another one of those grief stories that falls flat. I know Nic really loved this one so I'll give it a try but I have a feeling my reaction will be closer to yours.


  5. Missie Says:

    I just finished a book that left me with the same exact feeling. I didn't feel like the story or the characters had any depth to it, so it left me a bit dissatisfied.

    I'm on a Saving June tour myself, but I haven't read it yet. Now I'm worried I'll have the same reaction. We'll see.


  6. Jenny: Yeah, I liked the second half of the book much more than the first.

    Danya: I think I may be in the minority, which is why I hope others check out more reviews of the book.

    Melissa: I was kinda bummed that I didn't like this one as much as other bloggers, but I wanted to give my honest opinion about the book.

    Canadian Girl: Please do give it a try. You might like it much more than I did.

    Missie: It really depends on what clicks for you and what doesn't. I think I was reading it more for the grief storyline than the romance, which is why I thought it was kinda flat. Hope it works for you!


  7. LoriStrongin Says:

    Thanks for the honest review. Originally, I had this on my TBR list, but your review definitely has me rethinking that. I'm a big advocate of Show Don't Tell, so if the author has to keep relying on Telling us how strong a character is or just pulls on cliched actions to "prove" it, then usually I'm not a fan.

    Thanks again!


    Smiles!
    Lori


  8. I actually enjoyed this book, but I definitely see everything you are saying and why you had trouble with it. I also do not like my significant other to smoke because the habit grosses me out extremely, as it did when Jake smoked and when Harper smoked. At least you liked it, LOL!


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