Thursday, 31 May 2012

Review - Saving June

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
June, the older, golden girl sister has committed suicide. Sounds really grim. But that happened before the book begins and now the story must move on. And that’s what sixteen year old Harper tries to do. Harper literally tries to pick up the pieces and move on.  She says she’s doing it for June but really she’s doing it for herself.

Saving June is Hannah Harrington's debut novel and winner of the 2011 Teen Moonbeam Award. It's a raw story, told by Harper.  Harper is a true rebel with a cause (and yes, James Dean is mentioned in the book!). There's also plenty of reference to music and American cultural icons throughout.

Harper finds a postcard from her dead sister June. She reads that June felt trapped and really wanted to live in California.  So Harper decides that she will move June there – and so she sets off on a roadtrip across America in order to do this.

Freedom from parents, sleeping out under the stars, anti-war protests, punk rock concerts, an American roadtrip with a mysterious boy, best friends, young romance, and a musical playlist. It’s all in there. Yes, the playlists are included at the back of the book so you could listen along with the characters if you really wanted to (and I bet some readers will). 

The big, big issues that older teens grapple with are also in there which might make it inappropriate for younger readers: grief, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, suicide, one-night stands, pregnancy, parents, and the state the world is in. At times, it feels like a rollercoaster free-for-all (but with the real life scary bits) but it also manages to slip in questions of responsibility and consequences too.
Harper narrates the story and the tone of the book is very raw. While some readers may really connect with Harper and feel her grief, I didn’t. She’s a bit Marmitey and very bristly. She’s strong-willed and fairly singleminded in the way she approaches the world.  However, Harrington brings her characters very much to life and they are far from perfect. Her portrayal of teen behaviour, relationships and friendships is believable. You really do feel like you’re going on the journey with them.  And it's a good one.  Although there are times where the characters really want to get off!
For me, the book’s strength is not in its portrayal of Harper's grieving over June but in exploring the rebellious nature that takes over so many teens (and extends for some into adulthood too).  This book is full of self-indulgence and teenage nostalgia - and I liked that.
I really enjoyed this book. I think Saving June is appropriate for older teens.
Saving June publishes in the UK (quite appropriately) in June 2012.  The blog tour will be stopping here on Sunday 10th June.  Come back and say hello.

Publication details:

2012, Mira Books, Surrey

This copy: Review copy from Mira


  1. great review, I adored this book and thought that naerly all of it was incredible, I even liked Harper… I must admit it probably isn't suitable for younger teens but I;d definitely receommend it to any 15+ especially if they've been through anything tough or have a deep connection to music :)

    1. There is something alluring about this novel - and I can't quite put my finger on it. I've put it on the bookshelf for Little M to look at if she wants to later on. And that's saying something because I don't keep all of my review books :)


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