Review of Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Posted January 17, 2013 by Kara in Uncategorized / 11 Comments

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: June 1st, 2012
Pages: 322
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley


Description from Goodreads: ‘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.

ReviewI loved “Speechless”. In fact, it was one of the books I placed on my top ten favorite reads of 2012 . So when I was approved for another book by this author, I was so happy. Due to my book backup, I was finally able to get to this advance copy.

Harrington still keeps true to her fresh, non-apologetic material. She writes for a tougher crowd. Saving June, however, felt more judgmental than abrasive and edgy.

Harper could hold her own as a major female character, but there was no real connection to her as a person, even though the book was from her point of view. I did like that she was a grittier and majorly flawed character, but I never felt that I really hit it off with her. Which is a shame, because I love the name “Harper” (weird side note here). Harper constantly kept making remarks about all boys being sex-driven and other such stereotypical labeling. Jake, the leading male role in the book, was able to call her out on her attitude towards the male gender, but it seemed that no real repercussions came from the unnecessary boy-bashing. Harper’s ideas never changed, and she never hit a realization that it isn’t right to place the blame on one sex. It seemed that, from Harper’s POV, Jake’s redeeming quality was his lack of “jerkiness.” And Jake, while holding onto his own set of major issues, kept bouncing between a guy who took the high road and a guy who dealt out his own style of slandering other people. I really did not appreciate the scene of slut shaming that came from him. And just like other major conflict in the book, the entire thing was smoothed over and forgiven. I did feel a certain remorse for each of the three central characters: Harper with her “troubled teenager” label, Laney fighting her own negative labels, and Jake with his whole slew of issues. However, the deeper level of each person just never made its way to the surface. But the drama for the sake of plot development really wore thin. It is a story about living, and what it means to be alive, but touching on every single controversial issue in one story is over the top.

Religion and secular discussion plays a pivotal role in the book. Music heavily influences the storyline, which created a touching atmosphere throughout the entire novel. Harper and Jake visit upon the subject and often pull music, both old and new, into the conversation. Both sides of the religion fence shouldn’t worry. Harrington does not flat out attack or praise religion, but simply makes a case that some people simply need it, and other people do not. My favorite portion of the story happened as Harper made a point to Jake, a pop music hater, that some people need their catchy, top of the chart singles fix to get through life. I found that the entire debate saved this book from a lower rating. I can agree with Harper wholeheartedly on this subject. Religion draws a heavy parallel to spirituality.

Even with a touching ending, I felt that the characters never developed, and that Saving June was simply holding back a more profound story at the expense of the constant soap opera type drama. I still have this author on my automatic buy list, but this is a story I am not going to remember in 6 months.

3/5 Dragons

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11 responses to “Review of Saving June by Hannah Harrington

  1. Sam

    I enjoyed this slightly more, but I do understand what you mean about Harper. I don’t think I ever really liked her by the end, though I did appreciate her character to some extent. Despite your mixed thoughts, I’m glad you are still a fan of this author. Great review, Kara!

    • Sam, thanks for commenting! I don’t know if you are aware, but I have a co-blogger now and her name is Lyn. This was actually her review. LOL.

      As for the review, I read this one a long time ago and I think I felt similarly to Lyn. I can’t remember exactly what I disliked about this one, but I know I ended up rating it a 3. If I remember correctly, I had some issues with Harper too, AND I lacked an emotional connection to the story. That’s quite common for me though. 🙂

    • Hi Sam!

      I do love the author’s writing. Speechless was awesome. I was sad to give this book only 3 stars – I was expecting better. But you made a good point about appreciating her character. I can say I didn’t outright dislike her, but I don’t feel a strong urge to care for her.

  2. Hm I think I would really love this one. I’m not against this “slut shaming” term going around. I know when I was in high school there was a lot of that going on so what I read it in a book it just lends to a more realistic feeling for me (100% my opinion there and I know A LOT of people would argue it) I’m happy that some of the debates saved this one for you. I totally agree about the pop music one!

  3. Aww, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this as much! It’s actually my favorite of Harrington’s two novels, but I do know many of my close friends who have been wow-ed by Speechless and not this. It seems to be a hit-or-miss with many, but I’m glad you still enjoyed it for the most part. Fantastic review!(:

  4. I still haven’t read Speechless. Agh, I know. What is wrong with me? I also really prefer to read an author’s work by publication date, so I’d probably pick up Saving June first in any case.

    This book definitely sounds interesting, though it’s a shame it wasn’t better, especially as far as characterization goes. I feel that in a book like this, characters really should carry the story, so if the reader can’t connect with them, it’s harder to fully enjoy the novel.

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