Journey to the Unknown

My freshman year LA teacher (in high school) once told us that fiction novels could be divided into two types of stories- either people go on journeys, whether spiritual, physical, mental, or someone new comes to town. Then, she made us write an essay about which one we thought was more true. My 13-year old self freaked out. It was during the first couple months of high school and my thought processes were, let's say, not quite so... broad?

Now, looking back, it's quasi-true. There are a lot of novels that do fit that example, but even  now, like my 13 year old self, I still think that some novels don't fit in either category. 



Lucky for me, Saving June is a novel that fits in the journey category. I'm glad because while writing this post, I wondered how I'd rewrite that essay if I agreed with neither. 

Saving June  is Hannah Harrington's debut novel and quite honestly, blew me away. Harper Scott's sister June committed suicide, a month before her high school graduation and Harper is left with the broken pieces. Harper's family is falling apart since her parents are divorcing not only each other, but also what's left of June. In an impulsive act, Harper decides to take June's ashes to California, the place that June always wanted to go. Harper drags along her best friend and a boy who knew June, in an cross country trip from Michigan to California. 

It's not a sappy, corny story about how God had taken away a girl so young. It doesn't try too hard to write the type of person June was, in that way that makes the deceased sound so much better than who they really were. It's a journey of the unknown. The whole trip is impulsive- the stops, the roads to take to get to California. It's a journey of discovery for Harper, to find out who she is and also the person her sister was. It doesn't spell out the answer that Harper found, nor the person who June was. It gives the reader closure, even if nothing definite is said. 

Novels that don't spell out everything are more profound, because it lets the reader interpret the work. With things like grief, how do you have a set answer? For Harper, can she provide a definite answer to who June was when June was only a senior in high school who probably didn't even know herself entirely? 

Harper's not perfect, but neither is life. Saving June not only explores grief but also family dynamics, friendship, love and more. 

I'm looking forward to Hannah Harrington's next novels!

Unlike most of my other posts, Saving June is already in stores (since late last year) so please buy a copy or check it out at the library!

Review copy provided by Harlequin Teen

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