Sep 27, 2012

Saving June

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Published: 11.22.2011 by Harlequin Teen

Everyone's sorry, but no one can explain why.

Harper Scott's older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June's ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going - California.

Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession...and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except...Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down - again.

I can't resist a roadtrip book, especially one with a mysterious boy. This isn't a light and fluffy book, as you can tell from the summary. Harper deals with a lot on her journey across the country, between her sister's suicide and her parents' divorce, but this book is wonderful. There's just enough levity to balance out the heavy stuff without taking away from it.

  • Harper - Harper is an excellent mix of sarcastic, angry, and understandably shaken up. Yes, she feels a bit guilty for leaving her mom behind (and she should), but I love the fact that she was angry enough at her parents to set her plan in motion and follow it through. Her keeping people at arms-length while she was dealing in her own way felt right.
  • Jake - Jake is just badboy enough. Because of the kind of book this is, we can assume from the beginning that he has a heart of gold, but he throws us off from his 1st encounter with Harper. The slow unfolding of who Jake is, what he meant to June, and what he means to Harper is beautiful and real. Not ideal, but real.
  • roadtrip - Who doesn't love roadtrip books? This one has it all: purpose, drama, and fun.

  • comparing - I don't know what it's like to have sister or an older sibling, but Harper's constant thinking about how perfect June was and how flawed Harper herself is. It was depressing. It was kind of strange to me, how Harper was still comparing herself to "perfect" June, when every day it became more and more clear that her sister's life was anything but perfect.
  • boy crazy BFF - Harper's best friend Laney was a great character, but why why why why why does every BFF in a YA book have to be the boy obsessed, sex-crazed girl? Laney wasn't bad by any means, but she's a character with little development beyond her interactions with guys. We don't get to know her besides that. 

  • It's the first time he's used my first name. I hadn't even been completely positive that he knew what it was. We've never exactly had a formal introduction - how would that have gone? Hi, I'm Harper, the sister who didn't die. You must be Jake, the guy said dead sister tutored, the guy who burned here the mix CD she was listening to when she overdosed on Mom's sleeping pills, the guy who blackmailed his way into joining our road trip for reasons I am none too clear on.         - pg. 84 
  • Jake Tolan: Secret Overboard Tipper, at least when it comes to overworked, yet resilient, bubbly waitresses with bad dye jobs. Who would've thought?      - pg. 165

4 robots
I devoured this book. The tone was perfect and the mystery of June's relationship with Jake, and Harper's developing relationship with him was great.

Acquired: swapped for on

Sep 6, 2012

The Nature of Jade

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Published: 2-27-2007 by Simon Pulse

I am not my illness. "Girl with Anxiety," "Trauma of the Week" - no. I hate stuff like that. Everyone, everyone has their issue. But the one thing my illness did make me realize is how necessary it is to ignore the dangers of living in order to live. And how much trouble you can get into if you can't.

Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visiting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elephants. A boy carrying a baby.

His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.

Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

This is a reread for me. I read this a few years ago, but I wanted to read it again because now I also suffer from a panic disorder and I was curious to see if I related more to Jade than I did on the 1st read. It's a pretty good book - not amazing and a bit predictable, but still a good read. Overall, the same things stood out to me the 2nd time around.

  • anxiety - Jade had a lot of anxiety, and she had panic attacks. This is something I relate to, so reading about a character like Jade was encouraging. I thought that Jade's anxiety was realistic and liked how it didn't take over the plot of the book.
  • Sebastian + Jade - These 2 were an adorable couple - each going through their own things and cautiously curious about each other, but willing to put themselves out there. The fact that Sebastian had a child was handled so well too. His son was a constant presence and never ignored when he wasn't around. He's a big part of Sebastian's life and was treated as such.
  • Oliver - Jade's little brother wasn't in much of the book, but he was the only member of the family that I could stand. His interactions with his sister were always nice, light-hearted, but understanding and supportive. 

  • Jade's parents - Jade's parents, especially her mom, annoyed me. Her mother was off acting like a teenager and her father just decided that if he ignored it, it would stop. I wanted him to find his courage and talk to his wife before things escalated, but he didn't.
  • Sebastian's lie - At one point in the story, Sebastian lies to Jade. There are so many reasons I hated what he did: a major lie in a new relationship just destroys any hope of trust, it was a really important thing that he should have come clean to Jade about, and he put his son in a bad situation.
  • Abe - Jade's therapist Abe was a cool guy. He really was - but that's part of the issue. Therapists are meant to have a really professional relationship with their clients in order to help them, and he and Jade's interactions just struck me as being a little too friendly and a bit she should have been having the conversation with a best friend instead of this man she sees once a week.

  • I can see everyone's reflections in the car windows. Mom, with her hair that has gone from inappropriately frivolous to somehow ashamed; Dad with his disappointed profile; Oliver, with his faraway face, lost in another place where children fought beasts way bigger than themselves and where potions fixed the worst evils.       - pg. 82
  • If she knew I would wear what she suggested to meet a guy of an undefined age who I had just met, who has a baby, she would have strangled me with her new leather belt she's just also offered to lend me.      - pg. 113    Jade  + her mom
3 robots
A good book that deals with a lot of heavy things without ever focusing too much on any one of them

Acquired: bought