Here's another beautifully written, and beautifully told story by Emily Henry. It's a story of love, loss and letting go. Henry has a knack for artfully stringing words together. Her words are, like I said before, beautiful, poetic, even. There are so many metaphors and stunning visuals used throughout. You just get lost in the words, swept up in the magical realism of the story.
"Maybe for some people, falling in love is an explosion, fireworks against a black sky and tremors rumbling through the earth. One blazing moment. For me, it's been happening for months, as quietly as a seed sprouting. Love sneaked through me, spreading roots around my heart, until, in the blink of an eye, the green of it broke the dirt: hidden one moment, there the next."
Like Henry's other novel that I utterly fell in love with (Beach Read), A Million Junes isn't pitched all that accurately. See, I was attracted to the novel because it promises a forbidden romance, which sounds like that'll be the central point to the book. And while yes, there is an adorable romance, it's not the central point. If anything, the romance is the inciting incident. I would argue that the focal point is loss, grief-- and learning to let go and deal with it. And while that wasn't exactly what I was expecting when jumping in, it was somehow exactly what I needed.
"Grief is an unfillable hole in your body. It should be weightless, but it's heavy. Should be cold, but it burns. Should, over time, close up, but instead it deepens."
This doesn't happen often, but I got a little teary while reading this. That's how well-written the story, the characters and their relationships are. I almost cried. The themes of loss and grief really hit home, and they're presented so accurately, so realistically that it was hard not to really feel the characters' emotions as my own. It hit especially hard towards the end-- when you get to see the beauty and the happiness of it all hidden along with all the sadness.
Okay, okay, the way I'm presenting this is like A Million Junes is a dark and depressing novel. It's not. It's... hard to describe. It fuses together so many different things that shouldn't work and yet somehow they do. The story and tone as a whole start off pretty whimsical, set in a contemporary world with magic intertwined along with it. It's hard at first to really combine the real world aspect of the story with the oddities going on, but once you do it's not hard to truly lose yourself in it. Yes, loss and grief are very prevalent throughout the read, but somehow the author is able to entwine those with other pieces so they don't feel quite as dense but you still get the umph from them. Does that make sense? I don't know if it does, but I can't think of a better way to describe it. Don't let the idea of some "darker" themes scare you away. There's still plenty of lighthearted, sweet moments and while it is a read that presents a lot of depth, it's not dense. The flow of the writing feels like you're really living in that moment-- it's not boring or heavy in any way.
"We both know that pain comes for us all. It's almost a relief. Because if all of us are going to someday lose the people we love the most, or be lost by them, then what is there to do but live?"
I absolutely loved the relationships in this book. Both romantic and otherwise. The romantic relationship between Saul and June is that "forbidden romance" that's pitched in the synopsis. While, yes, there is an element of forbidden-ness to it, that's not really the central point of their romance. They have intense chemistry, and their banter is to-die-for. I also adore both of their characters-- neither of which fall into any pre-set stereotype. They just fit so well together and I love it. I also want to mention that the main character's (June's) relationship with her best friend was beautiful and perfect as well. They're so loyal and dedicated to each other. There's no stupid misunderstandings that pull them apart like what tends to happen in this kind of story. Their friendship is strong, and they don't let anything pull them apart. I love that.
I also appreciated seeing June's relationship with her family. It's complicated, but hey, isn't that what makes it more realistic? June's relationship with her father is particularly interesting. She always saw him as golden and perfect-- and throughout the novel she realizes there's more to him than that, which doesn't necessary make him bad, but just real. I love that too.
"My inheritance is grief and sunlight and the ability to choose which to hold on to."
If you didn't catch on while reading this, there's nothing about this book that's "typical" or can fall into a pre-set stereotype. Every aspect, character, relationship is actually pretty unique-- you won't be stumbling across many cliches in A Million Junes. While cliches can be fun, this book shows how breaking out of those can be a breath of fresh air. This was an immensely enjoyable read. It was nothing like I expected it to be going in, and somehow that made it even better. It really made me feel things, and will have a special place in my heart. I'd rate it a good 7.5/10 stars. A definite must read for anyone out there dealing with loss or just looking for a good book that'll make you smile, laugh, cry and just all together feel all the feels.
For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.
Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.
As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.