Book Review – Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index / Julie Israel / Penguin Books / 2017 / ISBN 9780141376424 / 338 Pages / Young Adult

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Book Blurb –

It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.

Then she discovers the letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to ‘You’, but never sent. Desperate to identify Camilla’s secret love and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.

Until she loses something. A card from The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camilla’s death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.

My Thoughts –

I learnt about this book at a Penguin Random House Showcase event that was held at the beginning of the year. I have been waiting for its release since then and was super excited to read it when I was given a copy recently. First, the way the publisher talked about this book made me want to read the story, but secondly, the beautiful art work on the front cover which wraps around to the back is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. A great cover and book on the inside.

The story follows Lemon, on a journey of grief and immense pain. She’s trying to work out how to live in a world where her big sister is no longer in it. In a family which is different to the one she grew up in, in a cold and haunted house which is filled with a ghost of a mother who no longer knows how to live without her daughter. When Lemon finds, her sisters love letter without a name on it, she makes it her mission to find out who she was writing it for. This mission leads her down a new and different path in her life. One where she is hurt and angry and tries to make new friends out of the hurt that she finds whilst looking for her sister’s lover.

“At this, something in me shifts. It’s like all the residual rage is suddenly pushed back, banished by this one little candle after so much darkness. To have someone remember Camilla with me – for a moment she’s not just a memory some dream I’m forgetting. She is real: confirmed by this stranger’s validation, this piece of her he holds that fits with mine” page 64.

A lot happens in this book. This book drowns in the theme of death and grief. It is swallowed by the thought of trying to move on and live in a world without a loved one. But it is underneath the theme of grief, there is a beautiful story of friendship that emerges. Friendships that wouldn’t happen without the first fallen domino but a consequence happily welcomed within the book. A needed consequence in the book as it can get dark and heavily emotional through most of it.

The characters in this book, all go through a lot of growth and change in the less than 400-page novel they sit in. The writing in the book bring to life death in a way that is sad and complex. The writing brings to life a family that is not keeping it together and working through their issues. There are situations of domestic and children’s abuse, negligence and drink driving.

This is a forward-thinking book that talks about a lot of topics that teenagers and young adults should read more about so that they are comfortable talking about them in real life.

There is one thing in the book that I didn’t like, there was no definition on who ‘You’ was and it drove me crazy as the number of pages dwindled. I just wish there was some resolution for the reader as there is for Juniper, but it feels like the reader is being led on and the author just gives up.

If you like tough but brutally honest books about death and how they affect teenagers and their family with a bit of a scavenger hunt within, then this is the book for you.

**I was given a copy of this book from Penguin Books in exchange for an open and honest opinion. All opinions expressed in the review above are mine and mine only**

I give this book 4.0 out of 5 Booky Stars!

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You can grab a copy of this book from links on the right-hand side of this blog or from the link directly under the picture.



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