“We may just be moments, June, but to love a handful of people very well, that’s a good life.” - Jack O'Donnell
Can we just talk about how good of a line that is? Put that on the back cover and I am instantly all in.
It’s been a while since I last reviewed a book, and I can’t say that it’s due to lack of reading. I have read several books so far this year, and they were fine, but honestly, I have just been waiting for something to come along that truly excited me. Something that made me want to review it.
I found that something in Emily Henry’s “A Million Junes.”
This book took me by surprise, and that is my absolute favorite thing about reading. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when a book is released and actually lives up to the hype or anticipation, but it’s even better when a book comes out of left field and knocks it out of the park for you.
You know that feeling you get when you read the final sentence of a book and you let out a sigh of both contentment and longing for more. That’s how this book was for me.
Let me start off by saying that fantasy is my absolute favorite genre… in its entirety. I don’t have a particular preference for what kind of fantasy I enjoy most. Honestly, just give me all of the things that don’t exist in my everyday life, and I’m content. (Seriously…. Being a muggle is dull sometimes!) However, that being said, I surprisingly haven’t read a whole lot of books that fall within the “magical realism” spectrum.
For anyone who may not be familiar with exactly what that means. It’s basically a genre for books that express a primarily realistic view of the real world while also having magical elements to them.“A Million Junes” falls into this category.
This book follows our main character Jack O’Donnell (or junior, or June… honestly, the girl’s got a lot of names), a high school senior who doesn’t know exactly what she wants to be in life but has a knack for storytelling and knows she wants to travel like her late father, also called Jack O’Donnell. She lives in a magical house where she can see ghosts and creatures, as well as what are referred to as “window whites” (little specks of light that allow June to see pieces of memories from those who have come before her).
As you read on, you learn that this book gives a nod to Shakespeare in that the O’Donnell family has had a century-long rift with another local family, the Angerts. June doesn’t really know why the families seem to hate each other, but for as long as she can remember, there have been two rules:
1. Stay away from the Angerts
2. Stay away from the Falls
The story truly begins as June and her best friend, Hannah head out for a traditional evening of fun at the local carnival. While there, June (literally) runs into Saul Angert (the guy she has been avoiding her whole life while also secretly internet stalking out of mere curiously) and let’s just say the sparks start there…. and continue on throughout the book.
The deeper the connection grows between June and Saul, the more memories they encounter and the closer they get to finding out the truth about the curse on their families.
To avoid any spoilers, I’ll stop there, but I just want to add that I truly adored this book. It has so many different themes and elements to it. It covers grief and loss, but also love and friendship and letting go. Henry has a way with words. There were so many places where I stopped to reread a sentence because it was just so beautifully crafted.
For example, this line:
“Letting go is not forgetting. It's opening your eyes to the good that grew from the bad, the life that blooms from decay.”
And this one:
“...because that's the way the lake air works: It carries the feelings you exhale into someone else's inhalations, it syncs your heartbeats, connects you to everyone else who loves it like you do.”
“It’s almost funny, in a tragic way, that the fiery thing at the center of my universe did die and that I, a girl whose name is synonymous with summer, am expected to live without it.”
Ok… I think you get the point.
Honestly, the only negative thing I have to say about this book is that it sat on my shelf so long before I picked it up and read it. I will be reading more of Henry’s work. And I suggest you do, too!