Saving June – Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Mira INK
Release Date: 1st June 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy
If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d have been June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.
When sixteen-year-old Harper’s sister June, the perfect, popular, pretty one to Harper’s also – ran, commits suicide just before her high-school graduation, nothing in Harper’s world makes sense anymore.
With her family falling apart, Harper has a plan – steal June’s ashes and take her sister to the one place she’s always wanted to go: California.
Embarking on a wild trip of impromptu gigs and stolen kisses with mysterious musician Jake, the one person who could hold answers about June, Harper’s determined to find peace for her sister.
But will she also find peace for herself along the way?
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Saving June since it was published in the US at the end of last year and they were pretty much spot on!
Harper is a fantastic main character. She is drowning in grief, regret and questions and has lost her footing in her world. Even before June’s suicide it’s clear that Harper was suffering, but now she’s dark and damaged and incredibly sharp with everybody, but still unwilling to give in to her grief. Her quick wit and acid tongue make her both hard to like and impossible not to love.
Harper’s abrasive nature makes for an explosive match when Jake comes into the picture. I really love Jake. He’s musical, mysterious, quiet and ridiculously good looking. He’s very secretive and intriguing and his connection with June is held onto by Hannah Harrington until just the right moment. The thing that joined them could have been anything, but I’m glad it was what it was; I don’t think Harper would have been able to deal with the standard ‘they were a secret couple’ thing and it’s a bit obvious really.
One of the biggest draws about Saving June for a lot of people has been the focus on music throughout the novel. I loved how the songs that Harper and Jake chose to listen to on their road trip so easily reflected the tensions, the moods and the feelings of the moment and really captured the characters’ essence at that time – it was brilliantly done. I also loved that it was music, in the form of a mix CD, that introduced Jake and Harper in the first place. And then you have the three fantastic playlists that features in the novel listed at the back of the book – I mean, what more could you want?
Although I loved Saving June, I did have a few niggles. So many people have said that they cried quite a few times during the novel but it just didn't provoke that reaction in me and I was kind of disappointed that it didn’t elicit any tears. Is that a little weird...? Anyway, it was a little strange as Hannah Harrington’s portrayal of Harper, Laney and Jake’s grief was so potent. The only other issue I had with the book was that all of the characters seemed so much older than they were supposed to be: Harper, 16; Laney, 17; and Jake, 18. Jake especially seemed far older than eighteen, so much so that I would have put him around twenty/twenty-one.
Saving June is a beautiful portrayal of grief and love and the healing power of music and I’m really looking forward to reading whatever Hannah Harrington writes next.
Thank you to Mira INK/Midas PR for providing me with a review copy and for letting me take part in the blog tour. Now you’re in for a treat as Hannah has stopped by to answer a few questions:
What provided your inspiration for Saving June?
I first had the idea for Saving June while I was in high school. When I was seventeen, I'd lost a relative of mine to suicide and the "splitting the ashes" thing was something that actually happened. The summer after I graduated, I was living out of my car and working as a pizza cook. The radio would always be on in the kitchen, so I was spending a lot of time listening to music and kicking the idea around in my head. A few years later I found some of the bits and pieces I'd written back then, and decided to sit down and write out a full first draft. So some of it comes from my personal experiences, and of course some of it is inspired by music I love. It all ended up tying together!
Please tell us a bit about the playlists you created, what made you pick the songs that you did? Are they personal favourites?
All of the songs included are ones I love, and it was difficult to narrow it down to three playlists! For June's playlist, I tried to put in songs I thought someone would pick if they were trying to introduce someone to that kind of music-- some of the more known hits and catchy tunes-- but also songs that might have had some meaning for her character. The "Say My Name" playlist was a little more random than the others, and for that one I mostly just picked my favorite songs that include names in the title. The last playlist-- the one Jake creates for Harper-- was probably the hardest; I went through and put in some of the songs that had had meaning throughout the story, and I also added a few that weren't outright mentioned but that I felt really fit Harper's story, especially from Jake's perspective. On top of that, I tried to do what Jake had mentioned about making the playlist "flow" and build up and peak before coming back down, so the music transitions aren't too jarring.
I have so many! I know it's a bit of a cliché, but my favorite band is The Beatles. Some of my other personal favorites include Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Nirvana, Talib Kweli, Tom Waits, Ani DiFranco, Sam Cooke, and Emmy the Great. But that's only the tip of the iceberg!
Are you anything like Harper, or Laney?
I'd say there's a little of me in Harper, Laney, and Jake. Of the three, I'm probably most like Harper, or at least I was as a teenager. I'm the "little" sister in my family too, and like her, I wasn't very interested in high school culture or a lot of the things that appealed to my peers. Her sense of alienation-- even before what happens with June-- is something I felt at that age. However, I think I'm not as brash or confrontational as she can be. I like to think I'm a little easier to get along with than Harper!
If Saving June was to be produced into a movie, what actors and actresses would you like to play the lead roles?
I always pictured Johnny Pacar as Jake. I could see someone like Kat Dennings as Harper and Amanda Seyfriend as Laney.