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."
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen
- Release date: Nov. 29, 2011
- Page count: 336
- Would appeal to: Fans of A Map of the Known World, Sarah Ockler fans
"All I can do is look at him. Up close, I get a better view; there's no denying the fact he is really, really goodlooking, in this rakish, edgy, badass, I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-screw-you-I-don't-need-a-mirror kind of way."
"'God, you're like a douche-baggy hipster music snob with the tastes of a forty-year-old white guy.'"
"Gwen has that affected, high-pitched baby voice that some girls at my high school like to adopt, thinking it's cutesy and endearing when it of course has the opposite effect. It makes me want to staby my eardrums."
"But maybe that's better. You can only cover a bullet hole with a Band-Aid for so long. Maybe I need to bleed out. Maybe I need to stop with the lame metaphors."
"'By then everyone will have the fiftieth edition of iPods--or maybe they'll just have music downloaded directly into their brains...I'll be the old lady in the corner going, 'Back when I was a kid, we had mix tapes, and floppy disks, and gas didn't cost twenty bucks a gallon, and oh, yeah, MTV actually played music videos...' And they'll probably say, 'Oh, Mom, you and your stories, we're jetting to the oxygen bar...' and take off in their flying cars.'"
Another one of those books where the narrator, Harper, has an awesome sense of humor-- sarcastic and witty despite the awful tragedy she's going through. She's the one who found her sister dead in the garage, and the reader doesn't see the actual flashback until the middle of the book. Harrington does a great job or portraying teens with realistic dialogue.
First of all, Jake Tolan is an incredibly awesome male lead. He's confusing. He's obsessed with music. He was friends with June, but Harper has a suspicion they were more than that. Of course, Harper can't help but fall for him. Her brain is constantly arguing with itself over why he's not swoon-worthy. The last thing she needs is to crush on the guy who infuriates her. So the author has taken the classic "they-hate-each-other" approach, but it definitely works. After several scenes of Jake shirtless, I really wanted to be in Harper's place. Besides his piercing green eyes, his always-messy hair was my favorite feature.
I went into the reading expecting to bawl my eyes out, and though I did get a little emotional, that never happened. For some reason I was able to put down this book in several places when all I really wanted to want was to read it from start to finish. There was a long stretch in the middle that lagged in pace.
There is the right amount of disbelief, sadness, and action in the story. Harper does a great job of trying to move on with her life. Laney, her best friend (I absolutely wanted her as my own beautiful best friend who is dramatic, loves rap, and can take charge when the situation calls for it!) tries to pick up all the pieces and succeeds in making a mess of her own life. So Harper ends up being just as big a rock to Laney as Laney is to her. I wish Laney and Seth had gotten more serious before the story ended.
My favorite two stops on the road trip were Fridge Henge and Carmen's apartment. The rally the teens go to was well described, and there's even an underground music club scene going on. A little bit of everything for everyone. I don't think I would have had the guts to run away from home and not call for as long as Harper did. When Harper and Laney get back, their punishment is pretty minimal. I would want to honor my dead sister's memory, but not at the expense of leaving my crushed divorced mother. Maybe that's why I admire her bravery and determination. It also helps that she has feelings of guilt on the roadtrip.
There were a few times too many (three, I think) that Harper mentioned something about being a jigsaw puzzle piece fitting into place (or missing).
The ending was wonderful, but I felt myself wishing the middle had made me feel just as satisfied as I felt at the end.
The writing is lovely. I laughed out loud during some descriptions of Gwen, Jake's ex. Even though the subject matter was serious, there were lots of fun moments and some strong sexual tension.
A contemporary read about surviving loss, friendship, and finding love in unusual places. Harrington paints a realistic picture for the reader through imagery and highlights the healing power of music.
*Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an e-copy of the book for an advanced review.