Netgalley (which is an amazing site by the way) where I was sent the Kindle edition in return for a review.
Now, why was I draw to this book? I don't quite know, I think it was because it sounded interesting and like the type of contemporary fiction I enjoy.
This is another one of those road trip music novels that are around the blogosphere at the moment, I know I've seen at least three reviews for this book already, so have a look around, but I think the opinions of this book are quite similar to mine...
Synopsis: Harper Scott's older sister, June, has always been the perfect one, the one that did everything right and their divorced parents loved the most. One morning, Harper goes into the garage to find June dead in the back seat of her car, a pill bottle in her hand, a mix CD playing on loop as she killed herself. But why, she was so perfect in Harper's eyes? And how come no-one saw it coming? When Harper's parents decide to spilt the ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands and steals the urn, planning to travel to California, a place June always wanted to visit, and spill the ashes into the Pacific Ocean.
Now, enters Jake Tolan, a bad-boy with a slight obsession with music which he sees can get you through anything. He seems to have no connection with June but still insists on joining them on the road trip across America. With his charming but annoying personality, this may be something that Harper needs on the road to recovery. But when things start to go to plan, Jake reveals his own secret that if told, would turn Harper's life around again
Review: This is, well, quite a novel. I read this within about 10 days, despite a busy week with lots of work and then, going to Berlin over the weekend. This novel had me hooked from start to finish, and I think a lot of people would agree with me.
Before I get into depth, this book is not perfect in any way, I mean I gave it a 4.5. It has faults that I will explain more but overall, it comes across for me as the type of book I love and considering this is Hannah Harrington's debut novel, it is pretty damn good. I mean, I've read Sarah Dessen's debut and to be honest, it's not that fantastic compared to her latest stuff. No author has a debut that is absolutely amazing - until now obviously.
First, the faults before I go off on a ramble about the good things. When I first started reading, I thought this was going to be boring, repetitive, done before. But it wasn't until they actually started the road trip and things started hotting up that it got majorly interesting. To start, Harper is quite boring and whiny, she shows a lack of emotion towards her sister and I didn't even process and take notice to the first meeting with Jake. So, I started off quite disappointed and already planning my next book to read. UNTIL.
Suddenly, it got interesting, exciting, sad, happy, cheerful, funny - EVERYTHING! Harper was interesting and I really connected with her voice. Her grief towards June became evident and I loved following her journey both to California and with herself changing, it made some great reading.
The characters of SAVING JUNE are very Sarah Dessen-type characters. For me, this was like the next best thing to Sarah Dessen and throughout I was constantly reminded of Dessen's characters and plots. The book that strikes me as most like this book is The Truth About Forever and Just Listen. Jake reflects Wes and Owen so much with his secrets, his mysterious, cool self as well as his passion and excitement for music. Laney reminded me instantly of Kirsty from TTAF with her fun loving attitude, drama queen and carefree self. Laney is a great character and was so funny and enjoyable to read about. Jake was someone you just wish you could be friends with. He comes across quite alone, but he is very compassionate and understands all the problems the trio deal with throughout the narrative. Harper is extraordinary, I thought she was going to be the typical mopy, exasperating girl who goes on and on about her dead sister. Yes, this is how people react to this kind of problem, but it's not great literature, honestly. She was strong, independent and liked how she was straight and didn't beat around the bush.
The trio work so well with each other and created some lovely moments that really reflected what relationships are like.
The story and writing itself is well planned out and shows the problems that might occur if you did do this kind of thing. Harrington explores teenage issues at ease and by the end of this novel, there are so many morales that many will take away with them. She talks about sex, alcohol, death without hesitation and with the amazing combination of characters, this becomes a book where you learn, enjoy and imagine the world she has created, that is quite realistic. She also makes you feel so many things towards the events and Harper, there is something quite original in her writing.
Another thing that confused me. Okay, so you're driving across America, yet their parents were not after them, they stopped off SO MANY times to do things that added to the adventure of the book. It's not a huge problem and I understand this was all to add to the plot but erm, in real life, I'm not sure this would happen.
The book is quite amazing and I loved the adventure the reader follows of Harper, Laney and Jake as they change and we discover more about each other and themselves. The romance that is in this will make any teenage girl, like me, shout 'Aww!' at the book MANY times, there is so much tension and subtle hints that when it happens (yes, I am not saying who....), it is so amazing and written so well. It is in a such unexpected moment.
I really did enjoy this book, despite a few faults. I would recommend this to anyone that loves Sarah Dessen of contemporary romance books, this is especially for you. I haven't read a romance book quite like this in a while. If Hannah Harrington keeps it up like her debut, she could be quite successful.
Verdict: Sarah Dessen fan? You must read this!
I give it a 4.5 out of 5
Author's Website: http://hharrington.livejournal.com/
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Other similar books on road-trips and music you might like:
- 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson
- Paper Towns - John Green
- Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson (REALLY want to read this)
Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for allowing me to read this.