It’s hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.
It’s been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie’s handbag for luck – and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of Camie’s accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.
But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie’s death – but without this card, there’s a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory that she can’t let anyone else find out.
Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this beautiful book to review!
OH MY GOOOOSH! I don’t even have the words to describe how much I loved this book, so I’m sorry if this review is just a whole lot of rambling. I started this book at 4pm (June 7) and finished it ten minutes ago (10pm) and I just… I don’t even know what to write because this book made me feel so many things and my emotions are running wild and… okay (breathe, Gabby, it’s okay). Okay. Let’s get on with the review.
I’m going to start off with saying how gorgeous the cover of this book is. The water colour effect, the different colours, the font of the title, it’s just so beautiful. When I first got the book in the mail, from the site of the cover I thought it was going to be a simple fluffy romance story about teenagers in love and all that. It wasn’t until I picked it up this afternoon to read it and I read the blurb again that I was really intrigued with the story and I knew that I was going to enjoy it.
Juniper is such an incredibly strong character and we really get to see her develop over the course of the novel. She has her flaws, one of them being a bit nosey, but I still loved every single aspect of her character. She is grieving the loss of her sister and also having to deal with seeing her parents grieve in their different ways, which was really emotional to read about. Her best friend has also stopped talking to her, so Juniper is all alone in a time when she really needs a friend. All she has is her index cards which she numbers with the days since she lost her sister, and writes her personal notes on them every day. But when day number 65 goes missing, it begins a journey Juniper didn’t know she wanted, and makes many friends along the way.
All of these “side” characters are so important to Juniper’s story and really help her develop along the way. I loved every single one of them… I just loved every single aspect of this book! Brand is just… AH-MAY-ZING. I mean, he too has his flaws, but he was the light that Juniper needed. And their cutesy little friendship and relationship was so nice to read about and it definitely added a lightheartedness to the plot which was needed. Brand is also going through a hard time at home along with Juniper’s other friends (Kody, Angela, Nate and Sponge) who are all experiencing something that no one knows about. This really plays with the theme of not really knowing what’s going on in other people’s life. Everyone has their secrets (including Camilla) that they will do anything to keep from other people finding out.
The story line itself is so raw and emotional as it focuses on grief with mentions of bullying, parental abuse, death and suicide, and it was so honest and real. However, Julie Israel deals with this in a way where it wasn’t as “sad” or “miserable” as it would seem. I don’t know if it was her writing style, they way she wrote the emotional things, or if it was because the sad was balanced out with the happy, but either way the book left me feeling happy as opposed to the down mood that books like this usually leave me in.
*SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH*
I got a bit teary toward the end, but I don’t think it was even sad tears. Everything was just wrapped up so nicely in the end. Although we don’t get closure on a specific something in the book, I feel like we really didn’t need to know who You was. He was Camilla’s secret, and she wanted him to be a secret for a reason. I kind of wish we discovered why he was this big secret, but either way I think it was handed nicely. But the burning of everything in the end and the characters getting their closure, gave me closure as well, and I was able to close the book with a smile on my face (but still sad because this incredible book was finished :().
Overall, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that you pick this book up. If you read and enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (two of my favourite books), then you will definitely enjoy Juniper Lemon because there is definitely a lot of similarities between the three.
This would have to be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I won’t be surprised at all if it ends up in my top books of 2017, and my favourite books of all time!
Comment below if you’ve read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and let me know your thoughts. Also let me know if you plan on picking it up, because I need to talk to someone about this book!