Friday, 12 August 2011

Book Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington.

Product details:
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Paperback, 375 pages
Release date: May 1st 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5
Ages: 14+

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again

Having read and loved Morgan Matson’s  Amy & Rogers Epic Detour earlier this summer, I was hungry for another book filled with road trips, romance and music, and so, from its synopsis, Saving June sounded like the perfect book for me. I wanted to love this book, I really did, but unfortunately it didn’t work out for me on a number of levels.  Let’s just say that if the plot of a book is on the weak side, then I need to fall in love with its characters, and to put it mildly, that did not happen here.
In Saving June we are introduced to Harper Scott, a sixteen year old girl who is trying to come to terms with the death of her older sister, June.  As far as Harper can see, June with her great grades and ‘perfect daughter’ status had it all. So, why did she commit suicide?  Harper will never know the dark secrets that June kept locked up inside, but she can do one last thing for June, and so she decides scatter her sister’s ashes in California where June always dreamed of going. Thus ensues a road trip where Harper is joined by her best friend Lacey, and Jake, a mysterious older guy, who is connected to June in some way, although he’s not saying exactly how.

Saving June is a road trip book where I never felt included in the journey. The pacing in this book is often off, while the story seems strangely disjointed as the characters move from place to place.  I didn’t get to experience what they experienced and frankly I would rather not have encountered some of the people Harper, Lacey and Jake met on their way to California.  Take the politically motivated and pretentious bunch of friends that Jake introduces the two girls to at the beginning of their road trip.  These are the kind of people I can’t stand to be around! They sit around smoking pot while having pseudo-intellectual conversations and judging each other by their music tastes.  For them, political activism is something of a hobby, and for some unexplained reason, Harper and Lacey think it would be fun to get involved in a protest…..just because.  On the first night of their trip, Harper ends up in a bad way after drinking bucket loads of tequila, while Lacey hooks up with the first guy she sees.  Jake and his friends are the kind of people who try way too hard to be cool, while Harper and Lacey are the kind of impressionable girls who buy into it, and try way to hard to impress the older kids. This is a constant throughout the book.

I was banking on Jake to save this book for me. The plot is pretty straightforward, but we’re counting on the secret that Jake is keeping to be something major. Does he know why June killed herself? Was there a romantic interest there? For me, the ending was pretty anti-climactic and made me question Jake’s character, so take from that what you will.   I was really looking forward to meeting Jake though. I love bad boys, and music loving bad boys, well, that’s totally my thing, but Jake has a huge chip on his shoulder, and sure, he knows his music, but unfortunately he’s pretty much a music snob too. Yawn. Jake is one of those ‘too cool for school’ guys whose taste in music is so much better than yours. I’ve encountered a whole lot of guys like Jake in my life already, so really, he was nothing special for me. As for Jake and Harper, maybe it’s meant to be chemistry, but from me all I took from them was nasty bickering. Harper is hurt and angry.  She’s on internal lockdown and she’s not particularly nice to the people around her, so as far as romance goes, this one didn’t work for me.

 Overall, it’s safe to say that Saving June isn’t a favourite of mine, although it does have its plus points. Harrington’s writing style is accessible and engaging, her knowledge of music is stellar, and her depiction of grief is raw, honest and real.  As a guy, Jake is a character who will probably appeal to a lot of people, but for me, I’ve been driven crazy by Jake-alikes too often in my own life to take him to my heart.  I may not have loved this one, but I’m still interested in checking out future titles from Harrington to see if they are a better fit for me.


  1. Oh,no! These characters sound terrible. If I read a book about a roadtrip, it must be good, and this one sounds...mmmmmmm. Great, honest review. I will be staying away from this one.

  2. Too bad none of the characters really drew you in, it's always hard for me to get truly involved in a story if I keep waiting for the characters to make me love them and they never do. I think I'll pass on this one for now, thanks Leanna!

  3. Great honest review. It is a shame you din't love it more (especially Jake) but even though I adore this book I can see your points. I am excited to see what Harrington does with her next book Speechless :)

  4. Oh I was really excited after reading the synopsis and seeing the cover...shame it didn't turn out as you hoped, fantastic review though! :D x

  5. I have seen this book around and want to read it. I loved your review of it. Very intriguing!!

  6. Bummer to hear that the book fell flat on both the character and plot elements. Ditto that the blurb sounded excellent, and I'm sad to hear it doesn't live up to its premise. Thanks for the honest review!


  7. I just finished Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and loved it. I really picked it up because of your awesome review. Too bad Saving June did hit a home run too. I am definitely a character kind of reader and it I do not connect then the book will always fall short for me. Think I will skip this one.

  8. Now that you said it, I was hoping for more Amy & Roger as well :)

    You had a problem with the political peeps as

    I didn't like Jake either...You may remember this.

    Great review! I'm sad you didn't LOVE it! :(

  9. oh my gosh, this sounds so sad. i don't think i could handle it.

  10. Jacinda - we had a totally similar reaction to this one! I remember reading your review and thinking 'nuh uh - I am gonna love this book!', but then, I didn't! ha!

    @Carrie - I didn't think it was all that sad, but maybe that's because I found the characters so annoying!

  11. Hmm...I'm up in the air about this one. I like road trips, romance and music etc like you said..Doesn't sound too fun or summer-ish to me... maybe i'll try Saving June.

  12. Terrific review - I think I am going to have to read it for the music references lol
    Shame it didnt life up to your expectations

  13. Yeah I'm sad you didn't like this! Totally get what you mean about all the friends being pretentious, but I know a lot of those type of people myself so that didn't bother me, and my bfs a huge music snob so again, wasn't too bothered by that. Totally agree with you about the writing style though!

    The Cait Files


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