You know the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? Well, I’m a horrible reader because I did just that. I chose to read this primarily because the cover looks awesome (come on, how can you not appreciate that work of art!). After the fact I fortunately saw that the blurb was intriguing. On that note, I’m changing the phrase: “only judge a book by it’s cover when it encourages you to read more”. It doesn’t sound as catchy, but I’m going with it.
Today’s book/drink pairing is branching out…not wine, a June Bug (try it as cocktail or mocktail)! Got yours in hand? Good! Now we’re ready to discuss A Million Junes!
Jack O’Donnell IV (AKA June, June-Bug, Junior…she’s a woman of many names) has grown up in Five Fingers, Michigan with her mom, stepfather, and two brothers. Her father died suddenly ten years prior, a tragedy that stuck with June. Some of her earliest memories include her father, telling her the stories of their family legacy and their magical home. Their house is built in a “thin place”, a place where coywolves (a coyote/wolf hybrid…in case you needed an image for your nightmares) can steal shoes, ghosts can wander as they please (specifically Feathers and Nameless…Feathers is like Glenda the Good Witch; Nameless is the Wicked Witch of the West), and Whites (the fluffy white puffs throughout the house) are free to float.
Growing up, June only had 2 rules: don’t swim in Five Finger Falls and don’t go anywhere near the Angerts. As a child, her father told her that bad things would happen if they so much as crossed paths and his pure hatred for the Angerts left her little reason to question him. Years later, she literally bumps into Saul Angert, the mysterious boy with wry wit that left years earlier without any explanation. Neither can deny their connection, leading June to do something that she never has in her life: question her father’s motives for avoiding the Angerts and looking for the way to end the ongoing curse/family feud that keeps their families apart.
“The families hate each other so much that when tragedy strikes one, fate lashes out at the other. And when they cross paths? Well, they don’t. And for good reason.”
When Book of the Month framed it as basically a modern Shakespearean story line with a magical twist, I was intrigued. Typically, I don’t gravitate toward YA or magical realism, but like every other millennial before me, I loooooove me some Harry Potter, so I decided to give it a shot. Let’s just say it just wasn’t for me. While I enjoyed the premise of the book and wanted so badly to be sucked in, I never felt truly connected with the characters and found myself reading solely for the purpose of reaching the end (your girl is a lot of things, but a quitter she is not).
A few not-too-spoilery issues I had:
While I understand that
Romeo and Juliet Saul and June were essentially “star-crossed lovers,” their relationship never felt believable to me. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy their banter (for the most part, then other times, June used the same joke again and again. Stop trying to make “fetch” happen..it’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN), but I wasn’t seeing the whole “love at first sight” relationship. If anything, it was “I-think-you’re-really-cute at first sight but our families are feuding so we must be in love.” I personally think the whole story would have been stronger if they hadn’t fallen in love.
In addition, at times the story just got a little hard to follow, between the many minor relationships that are explained (looking at you Stephen and Ms. deGeest) to the time hopping elements and 50 characters named Jack O’Donnell (okay, hyperbole, but still, THERE WERE 4 IN ONE BOOK!).
I’m going to rate this as 3 stars. It was a cute story of love and loss, but overall just not my cup of tea.
**Full Review with Spoilers**
Since you’re reading the spoilers section you either 1.) have finished reading A Million Junes and are curious if I shared your thoughts, or 2.) are a rebel and don’t care that you’re mixing up the usual order. Either way, I think we’ll be friends.
Normally I give you a full synopsis, but to be quite honest, there was way too much going on in this book that may/may not be relevant to the plot line (the jury’s still out on that one), so I’m just going to give my thoughts. Let’s get started:
Did anyone else feel as though Ms. deGeest was just thrown in for “added conflict” and keeping the star-crossed lovers apart? I understand that the guise for Saul and June spending time together was “tutoring with Mike” and his literary background made the writing class come into the main story line, but I felt that casting her as a previous lover for Saul was, well, weird. Take out the romantic aspect and just make her a concerned teacher that wants to make a difference.
I really did like the origin story of Feathers and
He Who Must Not Be Named Nameless. While neither family was entirely blameless , neither was to blame either, which I found to be very powerful and profound. What I didn’t get: why didn’t they call Nameless, “Abe”? And why didn’t Jack III explain the curse to Jack IV when he realized his time was drawing to a close rather than scattering stories? Wouldn’t that have saved her so many time-hopping trips down memory lane?
Besides that, the ending just really let me down. With so much build up (and so much information thrown at us), the conclusion was too shiny and tied too neatly for my tastes. Basically they go wash off their grief along with the sins of their fathers and then they can return to their normal lives? And Abe decides to stay away from Issa still? You would think after losing her that he would have been so excited to reunite. Also, WHAT PARENT WOULD SAY “OH, WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT TOMORROW” WHEN YOU’VE BEEN MISSING FOR 3 DAYS WITH THE BOY THAT YOU WEREN’T PERMITTED TO SEE AND HAD RECENTLY BEEN GROUNDED FOR SNEAKING AROUND WITH?! That’s the most magical part of the story in my opinion. Too bad I couldn’t have figured that trick out in my youth 😉 (side note: Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m totally joking…I think).
Have you read A Million Junes yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts!