[REVIEW] Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Author: Julie Israel
Genre: Young adult; contemporary
Rating: 4.5/5

“[I]t’s this very darkness, the cutouts, the envelope of holes that makes the stars so sharp and beautiful.”

65 days have passed since since Juniper lost her sister, Cammie, and the only thing holding her together as she starts the new school year is the ritual of her Happiness Index, a list of the good things (and bad) Cammie encouraged her to make in a bid to show Juniper the good things in the every day. But two months after Cammie’s death, Juniper still struggles to see the light.

I remember first reading about this book on Julie’s blog years ago and I’m so excited that I can now hold it in my hands!

The positives:

Tone. Julie Israel hits the sweet spot for every emotion – the good and the bad – so we are carried on the current of Juniper’s emotions right along with her. I haven’t seen many authors manage this, let alone a debut author.

Juniper. So much of this story is Juniper trying to come to terms with her own identity. Like all younger siblings, I think, she’s sort of defined herself in reaction to her sister but now she has to learn to define herself without the touchstone of Cammie to guide her.

The mystery. Bittersweet and full of questions, the mystery of You drives the plot forward and though the resolution wasn’t what I expected.

I cried. Actual tears. Twice.

The cover. I mean, look at it. So pretty.

Not-so-positives:

There’s a large cast for such a small book so some of the supporting characters faded into the background a little.

The behaviour of the love interest in some spots was a bit rubbish but it was reasoned, and he admitted he’d been out of line and apologised which is So Important, especially in YA.

Final thoughts:

This is not my most in depth review but sometimes it is better to let a book speak for itself. This is one such book. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is a story about grief, friendship, sisterhood, and the pain of moving on. It’s a cosy, quick read; equal parts humorous and heartbreaking.

Should you read it? Yes. Even if romance isn’t your genre. Even if contemporary isn’t your genre. Trust me. (And have a box of tissues handy).

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