f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: ARC Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington + Giveaway
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

ARC Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington + Giveaway

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Expected publication: 11.22.2011 ( Harlequin Teen)
Pages: 336
Final rating: 5 of 5 stars
Further information: Goodreads | Amazon
Source: NetGalley e-ARC
Find the author online: Blog |

‘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 demeanor 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.

My Review

Where to begin with Hannah Harrington's debut novel?  From the  opening lines, all the way to the final sentences, Saving June had a tight hold on my emotions and on my heartstrings.  I think part of that was the subject matter, while another part was seeing the journey Harper Scott, the main character makes over the course of the book.  Harrington has created a unique, identifiable character in Harper, the second daughter, who feels as if she has lived her entire life trying - and failing - to measure up to June, her older sister.  In the wake of June's suicide, Harper devises a plan: since she couldn't save her sister, she will take June's ashes to California, a place June always wanted to live.  And it's here that the book really begins to take form and resonate.  

Joining Harper on the road trip are her best friend, Laney, and Jacob Tolan.  The three make for an unlikely trio in Jake's van, Joplin.  Harper is weighed down by the loss of her sister, and the burden of watching her mother drown her sorrows in the nearest bottle.  Laney has a perfect life on the outside.  And Jake has secrets of his own.  Watching the three of them interact was a joy.  Both Jake and Laney made me laugh, and by turn, tear up more than once.  Laney is a wonderful foil to Harper, and I really enjoyed the glimpses Hannah Harrington gave us into their friendship, and the bond that they share.  And Jake, with his love of music.  I think I swooned over him more than once - about as often as I wanted to shake him for, as the summary promises, that infuriating demeanor.  

It isn't a straight shot to California.  The three stop several times along the way, for various adventures, ranging from tagging along on a protest and going to a punk rock concert, all of which is totally new to Harper.  Chapter by chapter, Harrington peels away at the surfaces of each of the three characters, in order to showcase their hidden quirks, and facets to their personalities.  There is more than meets the eye to each relationship the characters have with those around them, and I was fascinated by it all.  I absolutely loved how all three of their points of view on one subject or another were challenged at some point, forcing them to stretch their perceptions.  

And I can't do this book justice without mentioning Harper and Jacob's relationship.  Jake and Harper continually pushed one another's buttons.  They drove me absolutely crazy.  They would have a tender moment, and then one of them would back off and completely blow it.  I would think I had Jake all figured out, then he would prove me wrong - same with Harper.  These two really pulled me through the gamut of emotions - happiness, nervousness, sorrow, and hope.  In the end, they turned out to be really good for one another, although at one point, I had made up my mind that I loved them so much as they were, I didn't want them to cross the line into romance.  There was such a fabulous slow burn building between them, and a dynamic that I couldn't get enough of.  

But what made this book real for me, what caused it to stick out in my mind, to the point that sitting here writing this review a good week after I finished the book, I'm thinking back on parts and wanting to reread it, is the emotion.  I adored how music played into the book, and even that became an outlet for catharsis.  When Jacob played "Hey Jude," I played it, too.  I cried along with Harper more than once.  Hannah Harrington takes her characters on a journey - and as a a reader, I went along without question.  Harper's grief is so real, so genuine, that it affected me, reading.  The sorrow, the love, the memories - it all really caught a hold of my heart while I was reading this book.  (Side note: I listened to Miranda Lambert's "Over You" while reading this book and now it will always remind me of Saving June: "but you went away, how dare you, I miss you.  They say I'll be okay but I'm not going to ever get over you.")   I think the most striking emotional outlets for me were the parts that revolved around music: Jake and Harper dancing, Jake's song, etc. 
Overall I highly recommend this book.  I will most definitely be purchasing a finished copy.  In fact, I loved it so much that I thought I'd do a giveaway - US AND International!  Read on for details!  (P.S. If I reach 350 followers here by the time the giveaway ends, I'll add a SECOND winner...)

Memorable Quote

June is gone.  For the first time, the enormity of that hits me.  Every muscle aches, my heart most of all.  I am throbbing with how much I miss her.  It hurts worse than anything.  I don't know how I'm supposed to be expected to live day to day carrying this kind of pain.  I don't know how I'm supposed to go out there, spread her ashes and let her go. 

I want to stop running away from everything. 

I want to find something to run toward.  
- Harper


In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  No money or compensation of any sort exchanged hands.   I review books with no intention of monetary gain; rather, I review books out of my love of reading.