A girls finds solace in her note cards after her sister’s tragic death. She’s in pain, snarky and about to dumpster dive. This book can go one of two ways and, just like the search for You, we’ll let our review be a bit of a mystery. Jump over to see what we thought.
From the book flap:
| It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.
Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.
Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.
The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.
This is a smart, funny, poignant book guaranteed to make you laugh and cry – and maybe even take notes.
Overall: *Spoiler alert* This will more than likely go down as one of my favorite contemporary reads ever. Not since Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere have I ended a book and immediately re-started reading it. So let’s start there, the comparisons to this YA classic are so very merited, in my humble opinion.
Just two months after her sister’s death, Juniper is adrift in her own grief. Add to this, after finding a letter addressed to a mysterious You, she doubts she ever even knew her sister. Compound this with old friends avoiding her and Juniper has a huge dilemma on her hands. Juniper tries to hold on to her sister by following one of her habits: maintaining a daily Happiness Index where she rates her daily happiness from 0-10 and gives her reasons why on a note card that gets filed away. This index and the number of days since the accident structure and organize the story into linear days. In addition to providing chronology, her Happiness Index is a great indicator of Juniper’s emotions. While Juniper is a bit of an unreliable narrator, she always tells the truth to her Index.
Juniper Lemon is a feisty young gal who will burrow herself deep inside your heart no matter how hard you try to resist her charms. Part Lennie Walker, part Cassie Sullivan, she is a badass who wields her wit like a sword. She is both conflicted and sure of herself while trying to keep herself from falling apart in the aftermath of her sister’s death, but the loss of card #65 sets her off in a way no one would ever think the loss of a note card would.
Enter bad boy Marcus Flutie, I mean Jordan Catalano, I mean Brand Sayers, plus super adorable new kid, Nate, and there are more questions than answers in Juniper’s search for You. I especially adored her relationship with Brand and their peculiar brand of back-and-forth banter. He’s a mystery, wrapped in an enigma inside a puzzle box that Juniper can’t seem to get a beat on. He leaves her confused regularly. I love the challenge that Brand presents to Juniper both inside and outside her grief.
Julie also pulls her focus off of Juniper quite a bit to explore topics like friendship, LGBTQA+ relationships, poverty, running away. Her deft hands weave these components of Juniper’s and supporting characters stories into a complex and nuanced force for her to reckon with. This book is so real and emotional that it just jumps to life from the first sentence and holds you tenderly while you embark on this journey with Juniper and company. Grab your Reece’s Pieces and Gummi Bears, you’re going to devour this book in one sitting!
Judge a Book by its Cover: It’s Pink! There’s confetti! Juniper’s sour face! How can you NOT love it? Also, below is our cover recreation attempt (which was much harder to recreate than it looked).
Me Talk Pretty: I love Julie Israel’s words and how she writes them and puts them together. There are so many quotes, beautiful both in and out of context. Here’s a small sampling, but I encourage you to read the book and find your favorites.
Audiobook Narration: My re-read consisted of listening to the audiobook. I would have to say that Abigail Ravasch had the pitch-perfect Juniper Lemon voice I heard in my head when I read the book. Don’t believe me? Give it a try below.
Don’t Believe the Hype: Don’t @ me.
Bizarre Love Triangle: There is absolutely no competition in my book so there wasn’t much tension for me, but maybe there will be for you?
Open tab/Last call: My tab is open and I’m just wondering, would vanilla cream soda and lemon taste better with vodka or bourbon? Author’s choice! Either way, we’d call it the Juniper Lemon and have a few. Afterwards, let’s find a karaoke bar and have a Queen sing-along, most importantly including Bicycle Race and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Win an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) of JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX!
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