I've just read a great contemporary book!
Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index follows Juniper Lemon as she deals with the grief of losing her sister, Camilla in a car accident that she was a part off too, as well as trying to follow the clues that lead to Camie's secret.
The Happiness Index becomes like a way to live on after Camilla. It's like Juniper is reporting to her in some way.
We join Juniper when she's going back to school, for a new year without Camilla. This is strange for her.
"My throat is tight with all the changes I carry"
shows just how different life has become without her sister. She is trying not let it affect her but without any friends and her being on her own she's struggling with doing that.
"I can't escape the holes. My life is braided through with my sister, and now that she's gone, everything is coming apart"
details how Juniper is struggling without Camilla. As this is a contemporary novel, the author would have tried to make the grief realistic, I think. This shows that struggle.
We see Juniper fall in love gradually throughout the story with Brand.
"But I no longer feel I'm leaving empty handed"
is what Juniper says when she and Brand start to be more than just acquaintances. This happens over half way through the story so there certainly isn't any instant love. This made the story quite realistic too.
Juniper and the friends that she makes throughout the novel try to work out who was writing to Camilla. The anonymous writer and Camilla referred to themselves as "Me" and "You". This was the only thing that I didn't see resolved anywhere in the story. We might be just meant to draw our own conclusions as to who "You" is but this isn't made clear and kind of leaves the story without any real substance, I feel. That's the only reason this wasn't a 5 Star read for me.
"I really didn't know my sister"
is what Juniper thinks when she's depressed about not being able to tell just who "You" is. Not much is going right for her at this point in the story so I think that plays a part in her depression too. Also she finds out lots of things that she never knew about Camilla when she was alive.
Brand has a drunk/abusive father, although no abuse is ever actually shown happening.
"He used to hit my mom. Now he's started hitting me"
is evidence of Brand's dad's violence.
"You probably spent it on booze already, you drunk"
is Brand's response to a question about money from his father, proving that he's an alcoholic.
Both of the quotes above show that not everybody has a good upbringing but with the right support, they can still be good. Brand quite clearly, won't be like his father.
Parents show up a lot throughout Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index, which is something I feel we don't see too much of in YA contemporary. Juniper's parents ground her at a couple of points throughout the story. One time it's for going in her sisters' room to find clues for "You".
"No effort has been made to continue that conversation—probably cause mom doesn't want to and dad doesn't know how"
shows just how much they're all struggling with Camie's death.
Juniper's parents play a role in getting her to see that not everyone copes with grief in the same way.
"Oh. I'm, uh kind of grounded right now. I don't know if..."
This shows that Juniper wants to go out but is trying to be mindful of her parents' wishes.
"My parents and I aren't on great terms right now"
denotes how Juniper can admit to friends that her and her parents don't get on.
I've read this for the "friendship" part of the Summer Flings Reading Challenge on Facebook because friendship is a big element within the story. Juniper doesn't really have any friends until she starts trying to work out who "You" is. She knows by the end of the story but we don't.
There is a gay character in the story too, although it's not expanded any more than just a character saying this character is gay.
In Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index, I loved the camaraderie between Juniper and the friends that she makes. At first it is just because of her sister, but by the end of the book she realises that they like her for being her. Friendship is really what this book is based on so I'm glad that I read it for this challenge. If I was rating the theme of friendship, I would give Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index book 5 stars but because we didn't actually get the answer of who "You" was anywhere, it's getting 4 stars from me.
Juniper starts out as depressed and wanting answers for why her sister was killed. By the end of the story she knows all that she wants to and feels she no longer needs her crux of index cards because her friends are there instead.
I think I'm going to buy Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index if I see it in my local bookshop so if this sounds like you're sort of read then you'd probably enjoy it too!
Stand by for my next review, coming soon...