After Harper’s older sister, June, commits suicide, Harper embarks on a journey to California to spread her ashes in the ocean. Tagging along is Harper’s best friend, Laney, and Jake Tolan, a mysterious boy who knew June but is a stranger to Harper. She finds Jake annoying, at best, but he has a car and when offers to drive, Harper and Laney do not not pass their only means of getting to the west coast.
I am so glad I stuck with this one, because I fell in love with it very slowly. The first hundred pages were only so-so for me. The writing was lovely, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters, and their road-trip seemed a bit convoluted, sidetracked by tourist attractions and protest rallies. Then all of a sudden–I’m not sure exactly what did it–I found myself in love with Harper and Laney and Jake. I didn’t want their story to end. I was rooting for them, aching with them. They each have their own battles, and the backdrop of music and open roads weaves into their search for answers so wonderfully. There’s a subtle (and powerful) theme of confidence and self-doubt woven into this novel. Harper compares herself to her sister despite their obvious differences. She feels like the lesser of them, the disappointment, the failure. Her journey to acceptance of herself and her sister’s death happens gradually, and by the final pages, I was moved deeply. This was a wonderful read.
Originally posted here