Title: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index
Author: Julie Israel
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Publication Date: 1st June 2017
Rating: 5/5 Stars
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.
This book was kindly provided to me for honest review by the Publisher via Netgalley. This has not impacted on the content of this review, which it my own honest opinion.
This book blew me away. I went into this without expectations, and found myself emotionally invested. Told through the perspective of Juniper Lemon, who recently lost her sister. The book starts at the beginning of the school year, and Juniper is struggling with her grief. Grief and loss are prominent themes in this book and I really appreciated the different portrayals within this book.
Juniper can’t help but notice the holes left by her sister’s absence, and she is dealing with a lot of unresolved feelings. She is also incredibly aware of how other people are reacting, from her best friend who has been avoiding her, and now when they see each other, it’s awkward. Then there are the teachers who taught her sister previously, and make the connection. Her emotions felt incredibly raw and real throughout the book, especially in the beginning. One of her coping mechanisms is her Happiness Index. An exercise her sister started, where she rates the days happiness level and lists why on an index card at the end of each day. Some of these cards are actually shown in the book, which help give further insight as to what impacts Juniper the most.
One of the things I found really interesting in this book is the notes Juniper begins to collect as she searches for her missing index card. Not only does it give her insight into various classmates, leading Juniper to interact and form relationships with certain characters. They also allow her to process her own feelings surrounding her sisters sudden death. This also made me think about all the things I write down, all those random notes that get lost or thrown away and forgotten.
Juniper has her pain and grief, but so do all the other characters in this book for one reason or another. Something I really appreciated was that each character was given room to grow and face their emotions. Whether they were related to the death of Juniper’s sister or not. There was a big focus on friendship, which I always love. Gradually Juniper’s friendship group expands, and I loved each of the group. There is also a romance, which I actually really enjoyed, they were really supportive and openly talked about their emotions and what was going on.
All in all, while this book is about grief and death, it is also about living and healing and being kind and honest. About remembering. This book hit me emotionally, making me feel the grief, but ultimately it was positive, hopeful and uplifting. If you are looking for a good summer contemporary with some depth, good friendships, and a cute, supportive romance, look no further. This book made me think, and has stayed with me, I highly recommend.
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