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Happy Thanksgiving! + Review: Saving June

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is that special time of the year where you gather with family, friends, and other assorted loved ones to be together and celebrate life. To give thanks for all that has happened and been given and to remember the beautiful and sometimes bittersweet events of the year without anguish (as you'll be supported by those that love you).

It's that time of the year where our whole country (if you live in the US) gorges itself on elaborate feasts and warm, fun festivities, while being close to family. Enjoy the food, the free time off, and, most importantly, the company of those that matter to you! :D (I'll probably be posting pics and thoughts on the day on Twitter, so feel free to share your Thanksgiving anecdotes!)

And sticking with the theme of family, I give you a...


Saving June
by Hannah Harrington

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Release Date: November 22, 2011
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley + HarlequinTeen
Rating: Perfect Bed Partner
Good for Debut Author Challenge
About the Book:

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.

When Harper Scott’s older sister, 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 up her sister’s ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She'll steal the urn 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 an unknown connection to June. So when he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs. Except...Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper's life upside down—again.
According to the puppy-of-the-month calendar hanging next to the phone in the kitchen, my sister June died on a Thursday, exactly nine days before her high school graduation...

I've never been into the Angry At the World attitude, like Harper (although, later, it becomes evident that this girl IS WAY MORE COMPLICATED then she thinks/lets on). That's just not me, I don't flow that way (did I just say that?). I've never been a hardcore music fan. And no matter how ripped or sexy, I've never before been able to get into the rocker look for dudes. Again, not my style. My sisters and I have a tremulous (yet somehow steady) relationship, but I could never picture either of them poised for suicide. Gives me chills to think of it. So in going into this book, I was bombarded with all of these... foreign concepts, aspects I wouldn't normally go for. And for my efforts, Harrington WOWed me with her intricate characters, deeply emotional plot, and a resolution I could accept and be satisfied with.

From the opening page, Harrington fed me line after line of elegant prose and amazing metaphors and a wonderful narrative. I only mention writing styles when they're WORTH mentioning, and Harrington will grip you with her unique telling of a contemporary theme we've all encountered in our reading travels. A bowl of onions is hiding behind Saving June's cover, and as much as I love a good crying jag-inducing story, I accepted early on that this would be another of those tales where the teens have left the couch warm at their last therapy session and someone had died and the journey onward (via roadtripping, of course, because what else?) would be full of love and forgiveness and acceptance. I wasn't too far off, I will admit. But Harrington spilled the beans after having cooked them with sofrito thrown in as opposed to just the tomato sauce. This book shares common ground with my contemporary romance favorites and yet it screams different in the most beautiful way.

And while I wouldn't name my first-born after the MC or suddenly throw myself onto the mercy of the Bible, reading frantically for the answers to all of life's conundrums, Saving June, and its characters, became my teachers.The religious aspects weren't uncomfortable. There was no full-scale preaching; instead, Saving June expresses the importance of faith in something. Or someone, some higher power, because we all need something to believe that the world isn't all bad and we're being looked after... I'm gonna cut myself off before I go all Samwise Gamgee on you. The point being is faith and confusion as to God's existence is touched on more so than any specific religious practice. And Harrington exquisitely ties this to loss and overcoming grief, making the story THAT much more appealing.

Harper, Laney, and Jake are a trifecta of flawed perfection in fiction, three people who connect in ways I can only dream of experiencing one day. Harper and Laney have been best friends since forever (isn't that always the way?), but unlike the unlovable duo of yesterday's review for After Obsession, their friendship has its treasured memories, ups and downs, and a clear understanding of one another. They love each other for who they are, tolerate the bad stuff, and just accepte each other. That kind of friendship can only be stumbled upon a few times in a lifespan, I'm thinking. Harper and Laney's relationship is a rare find, one that any reader enjoying this book will lap up as the story progresses. And JAKE. Remember when I said I had an aversion to the punk/rocker look? BOY DID I NEED A (fictional) REALITY CHECK. Because Jake Tolan is a sexy mothertrucker, you guys. Jerky, arrogant, and an eternal music junkie with an attitude problem. But underneath is a heart of gold. Though he makes some crappy decisions and messes up a few times, he doesn't do anything that could potentially invoke Harper's (or my) abiding hatred. One of the most delectable romances I've read in some time has been written in Saving June's pages. I assure you, much will be missed if this book isn't picked up.

But the necessity of this book reaching your hands goes beyond JUST the romance, but also includes the themes (acceptance at the head of the list), the heartwrenching journey itself, and the characters. I've never met characters so utterly real in their heartbreak and being lost. Or as strong, because they somehow manage to reach for the crazy glue and stick the pieces back together. My single piece of advice: break out the Kleenex, but you'll need it when you least expect it. I knew there was a reason why this book called out to me, and I'm patting tummy (because that's where your intuition is, right? O_O) and thanking Intuition for refraining from leading me astray.

In the most totally inappropriate way you can imagine, PBP books are the books you want to do, they're so bloody brilliant... (My Rating System In-Depth)

I raise my eyebrows. "All this from the internet?"
"Google is my bitch." (12%)

I've never gotten so drunk it made me sick. It was nice, I guess, of Jake to hold my hair back, instead of just leaving me here.
"It was a lovely moment," he says drily. "Now there's a band name for you--the Lovely Pukes."
I poke my head back out to shoot him a withering look. "How about the Shut the Fuck Ups?"
"The Toilet Huggers."
"The Imminent Castrations." (35%)

"It was a joke, Harper," [Laney] says. Her voice is calm but firm. "Look, I know that this is a... bad time for you. The worst, even. I get it. I get it, and I'm trying to be patient, because I know you don't mean it when you turn me into your punching bag. But cut me some damn slack already, would you? I'm on your side here." (50%)


Brodie said...

Um, this review? A perfect recommendation of this book! Your first paragraph is EXACTLY how I felt in the beginning too and was totally blown over bythe story I found inside, it was amazing. Right up there in my Top Ten Contemporaries List (that really only exists in my head, but still...).

LOVE your review, you are seriously making me want to crack open my copy again... not before turning on Touch Me by the Doors for the background music ;)

Samual said...

I've heard good things about Saving June! It's one of the most anticipated new release YA book of November 2011. Great review! Thank you for sharing it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Books For All Seasons

A. Knight said...

Brodie- YAY. It was so hard to write this one, believe it or not. Ever notice how it seems to be harder to write about something you hate as opposed to something you love?


Sam- Yeah, it sure seems like it. And there's certainly a good reason for it, lingering in its pages.

Happy Thanksgiving!