Thursday, 7 June 2012

Saving June Blog Tour - Book Review and Interview

Saving June – Book Review
Hannah Harrington
YA Contemporary
‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’
Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going, California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.
As many of you will probably know, contemporary YA isn’t usually my thing but for some reason I felt compelled to give this book a go – and I’m so very pleased I did. Very quickly I found myself intrigued with the storyline and I’ll say now that ‘Saving June’ was an absolute page turner!
The story begins with the suicide of Harper’s older sister June who, with no note or any kind of goodbye, leaves Harper a mess of hurt, angry and confused emotions. Now as their divorced parents fight over splitting June’s ashes, Harper begins to form a plan, a plan to take June’s ashes to California (June’s dream destination) and scatter her ashes in the sea as a final tribute to her sister.
Enlisting the help of her best friend Laney, and rather begrudgingly accepting Jake’s offer to drive them, Harper successfully steals her sister’s ashes. And so begins the road trip of a lifetime…
Honestly it’s hard to describe how much this book moved me. What starts off as a story of grief and pain turns into a journey of friendship, self discovery and all the adventure that comes with being a teenager. Watching as Harper learns to trust and remake herself after being shattered by June’s death, her growing relationship with Jake and her realization of all the life and beauty this world has to offer was simply heart wrenching.
Each character was so deep and Hannah Harrington used them expertly to express such raw emotions that you could easily have believed that this story was true. Also music also plays a big part in this book. Not only are playlists from each scene listed at the end of the novel, but the songs themselves were chosen to help convey the feelings of each scene. Especially for Harper, who found the lyrics often triggered or released her suppressed feelings.
So overall I really enjoyed this book. Although I would probably recommend it more to older teens or mature readers as emotionally this story is very profound and heartfelt. Intense, expressive and deeply moving ‘Saving June’ is fantastic. 4 stars!

1)     What gave you the idea for Saving June and how long did it take you to write?

I fist 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!

It took me about three months to write a first draft of Saving June. It kept evolving in newer drafts after that time, but for the first draft, it was three months.

2)    While writing, did your characters behave as you wanted them to or did they ever change the direction of the story?

For the most part my characters behaved! I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted each of them to go from start to finish.

3)    What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing Saving June?

I think the biggest challenge was trying to stay true to the emotion but also allow the story to have some more light-hearted elements. A lot of the story is about finding the beauty in life, in relationships with friends and possible love and just the world and nature in general. To have Harper learn to appreciate all of that, I had to make sure she wasn’t buried under her grief the entire time.

4)    Can you tell us anything about any new/future writing projects of yours?

My next book, SPEECHLESS, will be published by Harlequin Teen at the end of August. It’s the story of a girl named Chelsea Knot, who takes a voluntary oath of silence after her gossip-mongering ways get her in big trouble.

5)    And finally, what was the best piece of advice you received back when you were still an aspiring writer?

Keep writing! The more you write, the better you get. I also think a good idea is to look at the books you’ve read and loved and try to figure out what about them strikes you so much, and try to keep that in mind for your own writing.

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