Title: A Million Junes
Author: Emily Henry
Release Date: May 16th 2017
Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
June’s dad only had one steadfast rule for her, and that was to stay away from the Angert’s. Despite her curiosity and despite getting closer to them than she should have, June followed that rule and it became easier to follow when Saul left Five Fingers. Even after her father’s death June still follows his rules, she still believes in the curse on their families and believes that every bad thing that happens to her family is mirrored by something bad happening to the Angerts. After all, it was only when Saul’s sister turned ill that her father died suddenly.
However now Saul is back in town, and though she knows she should stay away from him June cannot. The more time she spends with Saul the more she starts questioning the curse that was placed on both their families, and the more she realises she doesn’t hate this boy she was warned away from her whole life.
June and Saul spending time together awakens something between their two families, the ghosts that haunts June’s house. The Window Whites which float around her house start showing June images from the past, images that reveal a startling truth to the curse and the stories her father told her. The more June and Saul see of the past the more they realise they need to find a cure to what’s been haunting both their families for so many years.
Emily Henry’s debut novel, The Love That Split the World, was a favourite read of mine last year. It was a beautiful magical realism story with a romantically heartbreaking relationship between Natalie and Beau, so of course I was thrilled to see she had a new book coming out. Before picking up A Million Junes I saw some amazing reviews for it and after reading it I can safely say I agree with all those reviews. A Million Junes is another beautiful magical realism book, with an enchanting setting, great characters and an attention-grabbing plot that starts slow but doesn’t let go.
June worshiped her father. She love the stories he told her about the adventures he, his father and his father’s father had and wants nothing more than to be like him. She plans on travelling after she’s finished school, skipping college and exploring the world having amazing adventures like he did. June believes wholly in the magic of the curse and the magic inside her house. She fears what the curse will do to her and Saul as they spend time with one another, but the more the Window Whites show her the more she realises what she knows is only a small part of the story.
Her development throughout the story was interesting to read. No matter what else happened in her life and despite his death June’s father was her rock, the one thing she could rely on, however the more she delves into the past and the curse the more she realises how fallible her father was and learning that shakes her. Things she believes about her past, that she was so sure of, are revealed as lies and June is unsure of where she stands in the wake of those realisations.
Saul was told the same things June was, to stay away from the O’Donnells and to beware of the curse that haunts both their families. However unlike June Saul is sceptical of the magic that supposedly surrounds them. He seems to disbelieve what he hears about June’s house but when the Window Whites start showing him and June the past he eagerly accepts that magic is influencing his life. Saul doesn’t believe in the curse the same way June does, he doesn’t believe that the two of them spending time together will cause each other heartache and pain.
After first meeting each other again at the town carnival there is an instant connection between June and Saul. Despite their families shared hatred they can’t forget about each other, can’t stay away despite June fearing what the curse will take from her. Their relationship is full of heartache from the start, both of them knowing it can’t end well with the dark history between both their families.
The relationship June has with her best friend Hannah is the kind I love reading about in YA books. The two are different; Hannah has a very set path for her life that includes a lot of studying to get the perfect grades so she can attend the college of her dreams, whereas June doesn’t see her future in college at all. However the two of them are still incredibly close, and no matter what happens June knows she can share everything with Hannah without worrying about her friend abandoning her. The family relationship June has with her mother, step-dad, and half-brothers is one full of love and laughter and support. There are things her mother kept hidden from her, but no matter what June knows she is loved by them.
What I love most about the magical realism genre is the setting. Despite being set in the very real world of Five Fingers, Michigan – where June has a semi-normal life filled with small town carnivals, school, homework, and friends – there is magic woven into the setting and it feels almost real enough to touch. There are coywolves who live side by side with hens instead of killing them, who steal shoes and guide June to the memories of her father, ghosts who feel like feathers and ghosts whose very presence foretells death. There are plenty of subtle hints of magic throughout this book that make you believe in cherry trees that grow overnight, and Window Whites of memories which show you moments already past.
Emily Henry has quickly become a favourite magical realism author of mine. The Love That Split the World was a favourite read of mine for last year and A Million Junes has quickly become a favourite read of mine for this year. This book had everything I love about magical realism stories, and the characters everything I love about Emily Henry’s work.
What did you think of A Million Junes? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.