Author: Hannah Harrington
Published: 22nd November 2011
Source: eARC thanks to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley
Everyone's sorry. But no one can explain why.
Harper Scott's older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June's ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going—California.
Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except…Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down—again. - From Goodreads
I started reading this book with the expectations that is would be a mournful book about Harper's struggle to come to terms with her sister's suicide. Oh, how I love it when a book surprises me! I am not exactly sure how I would describe this book, at times I was laughing and (I admit it but shhh... don't tell anyone) at other times I cried like a baby. This was an emotional rollercoaster with a genuine and flawed character who drags you along on her journey to understand a profound loss.
Harper! What can I say? She was a wonderful kind of awkward, who puts her foot in her mouth on many occasions, but incredibly selfish. What made me relate to her was that she never apologised for the things she did. She had a reason to do or say whatever it was at the time and she was sticking to it! She also never felt overly sorry for herself or spent too much time dwelling on how she can't cope with the loss of her sister. I have very limited experience of loss on this scale, but when Harper talked about missing June and her pain, it felt genuine and often made me shed a tear in her place. Finally on Harper, I love her name. It was always one of my top names as I am a Harper Lee fan. I understand why Victoria Beckham named her daughter Harper.
The other shining light in this story was Jake Tolan and his fabulous and varied music taste. Jake is the misunderstood "bad boy", although he has put many of his, less desirable, habits behind him. Jake is the handsome scruffy boy with the beautiful green eyes. He was well written and interacted really well with Harper's best friend Laney. Ah Laney, so much fun, I want to know you in real life!
For me the music and the references link the book together. The best thing for me was that most of the music were songs I used to listen to in the car with my dad (I am also STILL a bit of a Stones fan girl). Music lit up the book for me and finding the track-list for the various soundtracks mentioned in the book at the end made me clap my hands with glee and wonder just how much music Hannah Harrington has. I am so putting some of these soundtracks together for myself.
The one thing that really was the thorn in my side for this story was just how selfish the main premise of the story is. It really irritated me that there was no thought towards her parents when Harper decides that she will take her sister's ashes away from them. Not only does she take the ashes she then takes it upon herself to decide how and where they are to be disposed. For me there was not enough dwelling on the selfishness of her actions and if I had been a member of her family and the decision had been taken from me, I'm not sure it's something I could get over. It was a great story, but this one point stuck with me for the whole book.