Book Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

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.

Dear You, 

I wish I could tell you, how life tries to kill me sometimes, how life tries so hard to make my smiles turn to frowns, but I still persevere, but for you. The You who saw the stars in my eyes once; the You who wanted to reach the reach the stars once with Me.

You may have been the optimist to my pessimist; but You were there and I didn’t realize how much that mattered, not until I couldn’t find You anymore. 

I lost You in miles of paperwork, in the responsibilities of adulthood, but I hope to find You one day. One fine day, where I would look up and see the stars shining in Your eyes.

I love today to the see the stars tomorrow. 

With all the faith;

Me

Now this is a Contemporary YA book that I could get behind.  

Contrary to the Happy Cover and title – this book isn’t that happy to start. Juniper lost her sister in an accident; an accident she feels a whole lot guilty for, but with her mother spacing out and her father tip-toeing around, she has had no choice but to retreat in her own personal bubble.

It was easy to see her try so hard to connect with the world around her; but it took loosing what she called her Happiness Card for a day to give her purpose – a purpose that gave her the way to connect with not only new friends but also a new love interest.

But it was the talent of the author to be able to put this beautiful story in words; words that left a physical ache in my chest and yet a smile on my lips. The writing is simplistic, soul – searching and hooks you right from the moment you start reading – I am not kidding, I completed this book in a day and I was not even in the mood to read.

And the talent of the author shows when she gives closure to her readers; even when she technically doesn’t – I have always been a reader who wants all of her plot twists to be tied up in a neat little bow and edged off before “the end” arrives in the book – but the fact that I did not mind it happening in this book (see my rating!) is a testament to this author’s skill and flair.  

I am blissful that a YA book makes certain to show that the tenants of grief are universal, despite the age or culture or even religion of human beings.  

PICK THIS BOOK UP – whatever your age maybe; for it will give you the feeling of contentment that you rarely find in books anymore! 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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