Isla Donaldson, 15!

Posted by Guy Pringle, 14th February 2012

Isla's mother, Clare, reviewer of this parish, ‘volunteered’ her daughter as a reviewer for Saving June by Hannah Harrington, a book on which I eulogised a few posts back - and on which Clare initially demurred.


Clare first:

“I’m attaching Isla’s (Age 15) review of Saving June and her thoughts on how it compares to  My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece.
I’ve also read it and my own thoughts are that it improved from a teensy, angsty start to develop into a seriously interesting read – well worth persevering. It addresses some major issues and explores grief and bereavement sensitively and realistically.


The inclusion of soundtracks throughout has the potential to alienate readers if they have particular musical tastes but was an added bonus as far as I was concerned and Isla commented on it as a major attraction because she favours alternative music over mainstream and was familiar with much of the material (thanks to her mother’s good taste!!).


Isla regularly poaches my reading material but it was wonderful to hear her enthuse about this book before I even set eyes on it and she has volunteered to review other books marketed as potential crossovers. 
If you’re passing comments back to the publishers, this one gets 5 stars from Isla!” 


And Isla’s review:

Saving June is a powerful and emotional novel describing the epic journey undertaken by three teenagers, drawn together by the death of June, an event powerful enough to unite three unlikely companions. Harper, as June’s sister, struggles most to come to terms with June’s unexpected suicide, her mixed emotions of anger and guilt portrayed through her strong and feisty character.


Whilst June was the clever one, the good girl, it is Harper [who] continues to fight on, even when everything is lost, in a way that June could never do. I would recommend this novel to adults and teens alike, a tale of strength, perseverance and the unbreakable bonds of love. It really brings to light the different ways that teenagers see, and cope with, the challenges life brings, compared to those of adults. Truly a story that will stay with you long after you read it.


In comparison to My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece, by Annabel Pitcher, I found Saving June a much easier book to get in to and was scarcely able to put it down until I had finished it. I also felt that I could relate much more to Harper, Jake and Laney, fellow teens, than to troubled, ten year old Jamie. The characters in Saving June came to life in my mind, perhaps because I saw traits in them that I also see within myself, something that was not possible with Annabel Pitcher’s book. Both books were good and worth reading, yet I believe that Saving June would appeal much more to a teenage audience whilst My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece may be better suited for adult readers.”


Indeed, a wise head on young shoulders – and an eloquent writer to boot! As I said previously, I’d love to hear of a group discussion comparing and contrasting these two books (sorry, old English teachers never die, they just go on to the great exam room in the sky!).


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