April 28, 2013
Saving June, a book review
published in 2011
a to the moon and back 4/ 5 stars
Goodreads / Amazon / Website
Saving June is like a hum. A steady hum that can sometimes go a little off track, but still keeps its senses anchored to the ground. And sometimes, there are rattles and sparks thrown in the way, and that hum just turns even more powerful, until it wraps around you and then suddenly you're breathing the same air it's breathing.
Saving June is about a road trip. And then some. Haley's older sister June just killed herself. Discovering her in the car, a bottle of sleeping pills in her hand, Haley cannot stop thinking of what June could have been. June, smart, sociable, a loving daughter. But June, weak in depth, concealed, revealing only partially her whole. So Haley decides to bring June's urn to California, the place where Haley thinks June wanted be set free. In comes along June's trusty side kick and best friend, Laney, and the mystical Jake Tolan, who has an apparent connection with June. Together they set off for a roadtrip of a lifetime, a roadtrip of undetermined length and spontaneous decisions. But a roadtrip for one sole purpose, and that is to save June.
Here's the tricky thing with road trip books. You have to feed your readers with action and adventure and fun, yet you still have to keep your readers' minds grounded on the real purpose of it. Hannah Harrington balanced that with great poise. Every pit stop, every detour, felt like it had a meaning to it, a meaning beyond comprehension that bound the story together.
Haley is the kind of protagonist that takes time to attach to. Obviously, being fresh from a sibling's death can change your attitude towards life a whole lot, but Haley felt like a stubborn kind. Quiet and slick and someone who stands firmly for her beliefs. But once you get to taste her personality more, you realize that Haley goes much deeper than you think she does. She's witty and snarky and... validating. You just want to know more about her, comfort her when she is vulnerable, shake her up when she's acting ridiculous.
Then there's Laney and Jake. Laney is a free spirit leading a breezy life. At least, that's what it looks like from the exterior. But Laney is also insecure, and always questioning her function in life. This what makes her relationship with Haley so strong. They feed from each others' strength and weaknesses, and they dive together into new experiences. And then, Jake. He's not completely a bad boy, not completely a hipster, but completely a music junkie. He breathes music. He can also fly under the radar, or set himself off like a spark. He's hard to get, and even harder to crack open. I guess that's what makes his bond with Haley- and June- so fascinating, so utterly entrancing.
There isn't much to say about June, but yet... there is so much. It is painful to think that a book must be bound by such a tragic story. Yet, it's exhilarating, it's eye opening, and as the story develops, you just feel even more pushed to unlock that hidden, dark knowledge that prompted June to end her life.
This book, this book, has got such a strong presence. It leaves a mark, leaves you questioning. Of what a person could have been. It it weren't for. And as brilliant as it is, sometimes you just want to hurl Saving June into the other side of the room, because it will utterly break your heart.
Then slowly piece it back together.
And that's the beauty of it.