Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel
Published by Penguin
Released 1st June 2017
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
It’s hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.
It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that ripped Juniper’s world apart. Life without her kind, beautiful, vibrant big sister Camilla is a colder, darker place. Until she discovers the letter. The letter Camie wrote, but never got to send. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of the accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.
But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie’s death – but without this card, there’s a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.
An unforgettable story of love, loss, mistakes and memories.
For some reason I love reading YA Fiction that makes me cry. I guess it’s because I am an emotional person and even the littlest of things sets me off. So, when I hear about a book that is perfect for lovers of The Fault in our Stars and All the Bright Places I am instantly wanting to read it. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index was going to be an emotional read but I was okay with that.
It’s been sixty five days since the accident that ultimately ripped Juniper Lemon’s life apart. Life without her big sister Camie isn’t the same. One day when using one of Camie’s bags, Juniper finds a letter that Camie wrote, but never sent. It’s addressed to ‘You’ and dated 4th July – the day the accident happened. Desperate to find out the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate. During her investigation, she loses a card from her Happiness Index, little notecards on which she rates her days. This index has been holding Juniper together. This certain card, however, contains a secret, a memory that Juniper can’t let anyone else find out about.
The first thing I’ll say about this book is that it handles grief really well. We see Juniper go through each stage of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance throughout the story. It also shows how differently grief is dealt with by different people. We can certainly see that when we look at Juniper and her mum and dad. Grief is something that needs to be spoken more openly about and it is dealt with in an appropriate way in this book. Not many authors can pull that off so I commend Julie Israel for that.
There were a few things within the book that were very predictable and I found myself knowing what was going to happen before the story even got to that moment. I like to be surprised when reading so this did slightly disappoint me. One thing that happened between Juniper and another character was so obvious as soon as you got introduced to the other character and I did find myself rolling my eyes when it eventually was revealed. There was one other moment that caused me to do this but due to spoilers I won’t mention it. If you have read the book you will probably know what I mean.
Juniper was a character that I really did feel for, although at times I thought she was being pretty stupid. Some of her decisions weren’t right but then you notice her wanting to fix them. We all make mistakes and I think this just made her more lifelike. The way the story is told through her perspective is spot on. You really get delve into her mind and find out how she is feeling. Also, the happiness index was a genius idea. It made you realise that despite everything, Juniper was wanting to be positive despite going through such a horrible experience. I loved how she turned to art to deal with her grief also. Being creative and having a creative outlet really is a therapy all in itself and I am so glad it was explored.
Friendship played a vital role in the story and I love watching Juniper’s relationships with Kody, Angela, Nate and Brand blossom. Although at times she did take them for granted, it was really lovely reading about them working on Booster club and going out together. When going through a bad experience you need friends and I think they did help Juniper deal with her grief. It was quite hard reading about the relationship between Juniper and Lauren but I was so glad that we did get closure at the end of the book.
Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index was a book that touched on important issues such as grief, family, friendship and love. It was rather emotional at times and I did find myself getting teary at certain moments. Despite this, I did find it a tad predictable at times and I wasn’t too sold on the ending. It felt slightly rushed to me. Mind you, for a debut it was good and I can tell Julie Israel has a good future in the world of YA fiction.
Julie Israel did a lot of telling stories before she ever figured out how to write them; around the campfire, in grade-school parodies, at meals when she had to account for the peas that mysteriously vanished from her plate but did not end up in her stomach.
She didn’t try writing a book until after high school, and didn’t finish one until after she had graduate college, taught English in Japan, tutored, written freelance, begun volunteering and completed her first secret mission as a spy. Okay, she was never a spy. She’s still telling tales. It’s one of her favourite things to do from her native Portland, Oregon, where she really does enjoy making art, learning and sometimes vegetables.