It’s hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.
It’s been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie’s handbag for luck – and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of Camie’s 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 that she can’t let anyone else find out.
I was kindly sent a copy of this book by Penguin in exchange for an honest review, and I can honestly say I really enjoyed this book.
Happiness Index homes genuine characters who were easy to relate to and empathise with, as well as characters who gave the novel the humour and wit necessary to break up and ease the tension of the heavy theme the novel holds.
It was impossible to stop myself from falling in love with our selection of main characters, especially Juniper and Brand, and even Camie, who we got to know through Juniper’s memories and subtly placed flashbacks. Israel created such depth and background for each character that instead of just being words on pages, they were real life people, going through high school just trying to figure out how to deal with the world and people and emotions around them.
None of the emotions or themes felt forced or ‘fake’ or unrealistic. I think Julia Israel tackled the grieving process delicately and it worked. I often felt myself grieving with Juniper (yes, it’s true IM NOT MADE OF STONE!!!!), and was even able to put myself in her shoes – which of course goes back to the realism a character can carry.
The only let down was the predictable classic high school romance. When will it be known that not every story needs a love interest? Maybe it’s just the whole I-don’t-like-contemporaries coming out of me, but as much as I love a good romance, I often find a majority of them completely unnecessary.
Overall, I really enjoyed Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and would definitely recommend this gorgeous story to anyone I can get my hands on. I rated it 4/5 stars, and can’t wait to future works Julie Israel has to offer.
Mark this amazing book as ‘to read‘ here!