book highlight: A Million Junes, by Emily Henry

I used to write an in-depth review of every single book I read. I don’t know how I did it honestly. Past me had lots of things to say. I want to bring my in-depth reviews back, but only for my favourite books. It’s my goal for 2021: write a review for every 5-stars I give. I want to be able to re-experience how I felt right after having finished a book I love. So let’s do it!

One Million Junes, by Emily Henry, is a peculiar book. It has a heart and a soul of its own. At least that’s how it felt to me: real. I decided to pick up this book because I’d been hearing wonderful things about it for years, especially from my friend Sydney. It’s weird because although I knew people liked this book, I somehow thought it wouldn’t be for me. Huge mistake. I remember Sydney talking about it back in December I think and thinking, ‘I need to read this book right now.’ There was just something about it that now felt special to me. I’m so happy I took a chance on this book.

This book is about June O’Donnell and Saul Angert, modern days Romeo and Juliet. Their families have been at ‘war’ for a century; nobody seems to know why. But both families founded their little city of Michigan; and everybody knows that if something wrong happens to one family, the other will soon suffer as well. June is 18 and lives on this sort of heaven-like farm, where coywolves steal your shoes and never hurt another animal, where some ghosts watch over you and others come to hurt you. Saul is 20 and just got home from university to take care of his NYT bestseller dad. Ever since they were little, they’ve been told to never talk to each other, and have been very successful at following this rule… until they literally collide with each other.

To me, this book mostly was about two things: grief and love. I can’t explain how well this book described what it feels like to lose someone and still feel a hole in your heart ten years later. It showed how you never outgrow grief, that it only becomes a part of your life you learn to live with: sometimes it’ll feel like it’s too much to handle and sometimes it’s so quiet you barely know it’s there. June lost her dad, Saul lost his sister, and it’s something they both have learned to live with in different ways.

Where there is grief, there is love. June loves her family with her entire heart, so much so that she would do anything to hear her dad’s voice once again. Saul’s twin sister died of cancer and it’s changed his way to see the world, the way he reacts to it. Where June has one foot in the past, Saul has one in the future. June is so focused on what was, she doesn’t always live in the moment or think about what will be. They balance each other out.

It’s ultimately a story deeply rooted in family and how one thing can affect said family for the decades to come. It’s also about letting go of the past and not forgetting yourself, allowing yourself to feel whatever it is you feel and learn how to live with it. It’s about giving yourself a chance.

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