Part Shakespearean retelling and part Alice Hoffman-style literary fantasy, the novel teems with luminous, evocative language and characters so alive I half-expected them to climb off the page and walk around my house.
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 'œJune' 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.Â
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.
A Million Junes
From chapter one:
From my bedroom window, I watch the ghost flutter. She shifts and warbles in the dark yard, her pink sheen caught in moonlight. I wonder if she's looking up at the spread of stars or if she's facing the farmhouse, watching us. Maybe things like her don't have eyes. Maybe they wander, unseeing, through the world.
At the edge of the clearing, the sudden shuffle and bob of branches draw my eyes from the ghost. A couple of giggly sophomores I recognize break through the brush and hesitate, half-shadowed, as they scour the hilltop our house sits on.
They look right past the shimmering pink spirit and focus instead on the cherry tree that sprawls out in front of our porch. The tree's as old as the town itself, planted by my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Jonathan 'œJack' Alroy O'Donnell, when he first settled here. He, like Dad, could talk roots into spreading anywhere, but part of the reason Jonathan stayed in Five Fingers was the taste of the cherries that grew on this hill. Like heaven on earth, Dad used to say, like the silent world before anything had gone wrong.
Why I love it
Once in a blue forever, you come across a book that features so many of your favorite elements that you can’t help but wonder if it was written specifically for you. A Million Junes felt that way to me: part Shakespearean retelling and part Alice Hoffman-style magical realism, the novel teems with luminous, evocative language and characters so alive I half-expected them to climb off the page and walk around my house. Throw in a forbidden romance with a slightly-older (and deliciously tattooed) writer-type, a cherry tree that bears fruit with supernatural healing properties, and a ramshackle farmhouse full of long-held family secrets, and you wind up with a stirring, slightly-spooky YA fable I was barely able to put down.
The story follows Jack O’Donnell IV (June for short'”she’s a 17-year-old girl, after all) and Saul Angert, the children of two families cleaved by a blood feud that stretches back four generations'”and inextricably connected by a curse that plagues both clans. June and Saul have each lost their most important person'”June her beloved dad, Saul his twin sister'”to a dark spirit known only as Nameless, and grief has turned both families brittle. Following Saul’s return to the curious upper Michigan town of Five Fingers where both families have lived for ages, and a chance meeting in a house of mirrors, the two of them team up to uncover the genesis of the curse and keep it from claiming anyone else'”and find themselves falling for each other in the process.
A Million Junes is very much a love story'”and the romance, I will tell you, is sexy as a naked late-night jump in Five Fingers Falls'”but for me the book’s big beating heart lay in June’s deep bond with her best friend, Hannah. Everything about their friendship, from their unexpected resolution of a potential love triangle to June’s horror and heartbreak at the idea of Hannah crossing the country for college, felt so honest and real. Henry brings the same emotional veracity to June’s relationship with her mom and stepdad: There are no cardboard heroes or villains here, only fully-realized humans with their own histories and heartaches.
A Million Junes is a gorgeous rumination on grief and memory, the fear that we’re destined to lose the people who matter most to us, and all the ways that love makes it safe to let go. Read this one in a hammock under leafy summer trees'”preferably with a big bowl of Michigan cherries in your lap.
Member ratings (5,569)
I thought I was getting into a ghostly mystery... what I gained was strength. I have never coped with grief and this story found me when I was needing it the most. Junior/June/Jacks have changed my life.
Lancaster , PA
I thought the magical worldthat June experienced was awesome. I would love to see this made into a movie, the right way. I got lost a bit when they discussed thinplaces,so I decided I’ll look intothem
This is so beautifully written and has so many important truths in it. The past is connected to our present & our future. We can’t change the past, but we choose how it affects us and what we do now.
I love Emily Henry’s writing style and I think this may be my favorite book of hers. Such a magical (literally!) story with important themes and plenty of witty dialogue and humor to lighten the mood.
This book has twists and turns that I adored. Emily Henry captures pure magic in her writing and this book shows that off beautifully. This book is the epitome of magical realism, I’m still blown away