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Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Blurb

It has been sixty-five days since Juniper Lemon’s sister died in a car accident. Juniper has taken Camilla’s bag to school with her, a memento to help her through her first day back at school.

As far as she knows Camilla wasn’t dating anyone when she died so she is surprised to find an unsent breakup letter in the bag. The letter is addressed simply to ‘You’ and is dated 4th July – the date her sister died.

Juniper has been keeping index cards to rate the days since Camilla died. Whilst searching for this unknown ‘You’ Juniper loses one of them. Index card 65 has a shameful secret memory on it, one she is desperate to find before her secret gets out.


Our Review

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is definitely one of those books that will definitely give me a book hangover. This YA book was amazing and I was sad to reach the end of it. Julie Israel’s characters were well developed and the plot was captivating throughout. A fantastic debut.

It has been sixty-five days since Juniper Lemon’s sister died in a car accident. Juniper has taken Camilla’s bag to school with her, a memento to help her through her first day back at school.

As far as she knows Camilla wasn’t dating anyone when she died so she is surprised to find an unsent breakup letter in the bag. The letter is addressed simply to ‘You’ and is dated 4th July – the date her sister died.

Juniper has been keeping index cards to rate the days since Camilla died. Whilst searching for this unknown ‘You’ Juniper loses one of them. Index card 65 has a shameful secret memory on it, one she is desperate to find before her secret gets out.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index begins with Juniper having her class photo taken for the year.

The girl in the picture doesn’t look any different. Things you see: brown eyes. Honey hair to the shoulders. Natural eyeliner.

Things you don’t: stitches. A neck brace. The sleep rings hidden beneath her makeup.

I lower my new student ID card. My throat is tight with all the changes I carry, but won’t find there. Still, I’m grateful not to wear them like a flag on my forehead. Ask me about my tragedy! There’s talk enough without advertising.

Everywhere she goes in school she hears whispers of her name or Camilla’s, whispers that stop when she approaches. Eventually, in despair, she decides to hideout in the library. Kody Hotchkiss sits down with her, not realising who she has sat with until it is too late. Juniper encourages her to stay.

Kody tells her she is hiding from the school bully Morgan Molloy and asks Juniper who she Is hiding from.

'Everyone. But mostly – Lauren.’ Lauren is my real fear today: that the one person I actually want to talk to doesn’t want to talk to me. Maybe what I’m really hiding from is finding out.

One of the striking things about Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is the ease with which Julie Israel accurately portrays the ways in which grief can impact someone’s life. A common experience for people who are grieving is that those around them are unwilling to mention the name of the person who died, and also that previously close friends begin to avoid them. Both of these things happen on the first day, Lauren her best friend avoids her, people talk about her and her sister but not one person offers their condolences and one of her teachers begins to mention her sister’s name then just stops like she had never said anything.

Mrs Jacobson, after the briefest moments silence, just picks up and goes to the next kid on the list – ‘Darrin Mills?’ – as if that tiny hesitation hadn’t been there.

As if she had never been there.

Another Camilla-Shaped hole.

The absence of her sister is felt in every area of her life. Juniper’s mom refuses to talk about her and leaves the room whenever Camilla’s name is mentioned. Her father just tiptoes around the topic meaning that she has no one she can talk to about her. She isn’t even allowed in her room because it may upset her mom.

Another blank space. I am haunted by them: the pause at Cammie’s name

The gap in my index. The sidesteps where she should be in conversations, but isn’t. Her empty chair at dinner; her toothbrush and her shampoo; her shoes from the entryway, her keys from the kitchen hook, her tea and favourite cereal from the cupboard…

I cant escape the holes .My life is braided through with my sister, and now that she is gone, everything is coming apart.

Because of this absence in her life Juniper becomes fixated on finding the mysterious ‘You’ from the letter and in any connection she still has to Cammie. Her happiness index was something Camila had encouraged her to start because she felt Juniper had a tendency to be negative about situations. This is why it hits her so hard when she loses one of those cards. She will do anything to get it back, even dumpster diving with the school rebel to try and find it.

Brand inexplicably starts hanging around with her and helps her to try and find the index card. In her search for her index card Juniper discovers the secrets of some of the other students and can’t help herself from trying to fix their problems.

Along the way she learns ways to deal with her grief, and to find a way to live with the loss of her sister.

I don’t want to give any spoilers but I will say that the romance in this book and sweet and one you will be routing for.

This book covers many emotive topics, including grief and bullying. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is not only about grief, it is about the power of friendship and finding romance in unexpected places.

There wasn’t a single part of this book that I didn’t love.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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