Saturday, 31 March 2012

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

3 Stars (contemporary YA)

I have to say I was hoping this book would hit me hard. The context of the story had it all, the drama, the hope, the love, the loss, but ultimately it fell flat a little bit in the overall impact.

I couldn't help comparing it a little bit to Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. They're both road trip books but at the core they are both books about healing after a great loss. I feel like Matson achieved the core better than Harrington. I know it may seem unfair to compare one author to another but in this case I just couldn't help it. I felt like Harrington's book was darker in a way. The main character Harper has just lost her sister June after she commits suicide. We never really come to understand why her sister commits suicide - maybe that's the point, that an action like that really isn't understandable for those left behind. We really can't know at all what someone in that position would have felt or thought in the last moments. So the tone is darker I feel, but the rest of the story - the road trip to California in order to scatter June's ashes in the Pacific, in California where she always dreamed of escaping in what sets the whole story in motion. Jake, who has a mysterious connection to June tags along with Harper and her best friend on this road trip - for reasons again which I never felt I truly came to understand.

So they're on this road trip and the whole time I felt like Harper flip flopped between pleasant and engaging to moody and dismissive. I hated this and it made me dislike Harper more often than not. She was so up and down with Jake, at once attracted and interested in him and then antagonistic. It just didn't make sense to me, even if Harper was meant to be grieving and confused about her emotions. She'd get in a fight with Jake that was completely her doing and then turn it around on him the next day as if he were the one to start the whole thing. It got irritating and consequently I never felt like I truly understood Harper or sympathized with her.

There were some good moments for sure. Some cute and refreshing scenes, but I felt like I got bogged down by the mood swings. It didn't feel much like a road trip book in a sense. A lot of the scenes felt like they could have been taking place in the same area - like the setting never really changed or was described well enough to make a difference to the reader. Like we weren't really moving forward at all.

Jake was a nice character. He seemed to have depth and insight and the best friend was funny, but I felt like all the character could have been pushed just a little bit further.

Overall the read was entertaining in the moment but forgettable once the last page is turned. There were too many unanswered or maybe unexplored questions and the main character was confusing and annoying. 

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