Review and author interview:
Harper’s world is turned upside down when her older sister, June commits suicide. She was always the popular, pretty one, with her old life ahead of her. Harper is just normal. To top it off, her parents recently divorced and her interfering aunt is trying to convert her to the ways of God. June had always wanted to escape to California, so when her parents plan to split her ashes, harper decides to steal the urn and head to the Pacific Ocean to do the only right thing she can by her sister. She takes with her, her best friend Laney and the mysterious Jake, whose only connection to June is the mix CD she was listening to when she died.
Narrated by Harper, there is an authentic sounding teen voice throughout, which maybe makes it less likely to be a cross-over novel but bound to be a hit with younger readers. Jake is the quintessential music geek, educating Harper along the way. When I first saw there was a heavy music theme to the book, I was a little concerned, I’m so not down with the kids music wise, so it was with a sigh of relief to realise Jake loves the kind of music I have listened to throughout my life. There are handy playlists at the back of the book so you can make your own mix up beforehand if you’re unfamiliar and listen to the music along with Harper.
What Hannah manages to do well, is capture the mixed feelings of grief and helplessness of a teenager who feels she has no one to turn to, that her feelings might somehow be wrong. When she moves away from the emotive, I found the writing a little clunky in places, especially when describing every day acts. She seemed to dwell a lot on describing smoking too… Laney does manage to tell Harper it’s a bad habit but it feels like it’s just there for the sake of it.
The development of the relationship is nothing surprising but it’s an enjoyable read. Jake comes across as a much older character than eighteen but maybe that’s Harper’s perception of him. At sixteen, two years is a much bigger gap than it is for adults. I was hoping for more of the road trip element to shine through, but the narrative only pays lip service to the passing landscape, pausing only really for Fridge Henge.
Saving June is published by MIRA Ink in the UK and is now available in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review. But wait, don’t go anywhere yet, I’ve got some Q + A with Hannah herself…
Are you excited about the UK release of Saving June?
I’m thrilled! It’s so exciting that UK readers are going to get a chance to read my book!
Why did you choose to tackle the subject of grief?
I didn’t really purposefully set out to write a story about grief, it just so happened to be the story that popped into my head! A lot of the teenage years are about experiencing your “firsts”, and first loss is one of those. I think the first time you go through anything is always a little different compared to going through something you’ve experienced before, so I wanted to write about it from that angle.
What’s your favourite music to write to?
Any and all! Whatever I’m in the mood for. I am a big fan of classic rock, though.
Who would you cast as the main characters in a movie version of Saving June?
I always pictured Johnny Pacar as Jake. I could see someone like Kat Dennings as Harper and Amanda Seyfriend as Laney.
Are you a big fan of road trips?
Yes! Road trips are really fun, as long as you’re going on them with the right people.
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