Saving June, by Hannah Harrington

Suicide, particularly the suicide of a teenager, is not a topic that is high on my list of favorites these days.  Since becoming a mother, certain themes in books, television, or movies affect me in new and different ways.  There are some things I just can't stand to think much about at this point in time, and the death of a child is at the top of that list.  (The avoidance multiplies if that child is around the age of my own.)

Given these circumstances, you might understand why I felt a hint of trepidation when I started reading Hannah Harrington's Saving June.  After all, the summary clearly implies a theme of death in the book:
‘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.
 I have found that some YA authors are deft at handling difficult, emotional issues with just enough detail to pull at the heartstrings, without sending the more sensitive of us into panic attacks.  Hannah Harrington writes Saving June in exactly such a way.

The book opens on the evening of June's funeral, meaning that readers only hear of her life and death through the voice of her sister, Harper.  We, as readers, are not given an opportunity to form much of an emotional connection to June, and her suicide itself is actually only dealt with in brief, topical terms.  The book, and the story, are Harper's.

Harper is a loveable, slightly misguided teenager who is struggling to deal with the aftermath of her "perfect" sister's death.  Harper makes some ridiculous decisions, but at heart, she is a good kid who is just trying to do what she thinks she should for the sister she realizes she never knew very well at all.

Despite its weighty issues, this is a great book for spring or summer reading, largely because it involves a road trip with a cute boy and a slightly wild best friend. 

Has your taste in books/movies changed since becoming a parent?  Are there some things you just can't tolerate anymore?

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