Prepare to be transported to a new world of YA in Emily Henry’s A Million Junes! This silky, ethereal tale spans through generations of magic and darkness, leading to a modern smalltown Romeo and Juliet. This one’s for the dreamers, written in an unique style that draws you in and slowly unravels a strange and complex world.
Jack “June” O’Donnell IV was given the family name because being a Jack is important in Five Fingers, Michigan. Her family is in the local history books, and the mysteries of their generations-old farm– from peaceful coywolves who like to steal shoes to cherries with healing powers– are the stuff of legend. There’s only one major rule the comes with being an infamous O’Donnell: June must stay away from the Angerts, an old rival family that’s brought generations of hatred and bad luck with them. Every time the two families collide, something terrible happens.
Avoiding the Angerts had been easy since the only boy around her age, Saul Angert, headed out to private school rather than risk attending high school with June. But as her senior year begins, Saul returns to town, and he’s done believing in curses. While they don’t actively seek each other out, they find themselves in similar circles as their two best friends begin dating. Soon, the supernatural elements of June’s fabled homestead begin to show the two the truth about their troublesome, entwined family histories. The knowledge, spread through strange sporadic memories, tests everything June ever knew about her deceased father and her planned path through life. June and Saul push and pull against their connection and its stark revelations, but realize they’ll have to risk everything to break the curse threatening them.
There’s really something to be said about Emily Henry’s unearthly writing style. A touch poetic and a little sad overall, the novel leaves room for quips and flirtations without making things jarring. It just flows overall, making it easy to drift through the story and follow the ripples to the next reveal. That said, this story is entrancing because of its unique magical elements and huge heart, but it’s not plot-heavy. It’s a character-focused story infused with supernatural elements. You will be touched by the journey, but there’s not much action, so be sure that’s what you’re in the mood for before you pick it up.
June and Saul are both easy characters to like and they have great chemistry. June is younger than Saul (recently 18-years-old versus nearly 21-years-old), which may concern some people, but their romance is generally innocent and never felt weird. I was so pleased that the story shows them falling slowly and having lots of independent growth, instead of being hopelessly dependent on each other from the moment they connect. Their story has closure but also a sweet open-endedness that promises more opportunities and adventures to come.
As for secondary characters, June and Saul’s respective best friends, Hannah and Nate, add a little panache and comic relief. Through flashbacks, we also meet June’s father, Jack III, who is a complex character. He’s not always necessarily likable, but plays a really interesting role both in perpetuating issues with the Angerts and keeping June unaware of her dark circumstances prior to his death. June’s mother and stepfather don’t stick out much as characters, but her younger half-brothers are a riot. While all the characters are fun, I didn’t feel SUPER attached to any of them. Perhaps in that since, the story was a little too fluid. Then there’s Mrs. de Geest, one of June’s teachers, who really rubbed me the wrong way. She’s supposed to be a no-nonsense motivator that helps open June up to greater possibilities, but she was so persistent that it almost became obnoxious. I don’t really feel like she added anything to the narrative and that June could have come to the same conclusions about opportunities in her life naturally.
If character-driven stories with a dash of whimsy tickle your fancy, you’ll find something warm and fascinating in the pages of A Million Junes.
RATING: 3.75 OUT OF 5 STARS
A Million Junes hits bookshelves tomorrow, May 16, 2017. You can pre-order it now via Amazon.
In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.
Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.
But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.
Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.