I was absolutely smitten with Emily Henry’s The Love That Split The World before I even read it. Similarly, I knew I had to read A Million Junes as soon as humanly possible, and pre-ordered it as soon as humanly possible. Henry has this amazing atmospheric storytelling vibe that dreamily whisks me away on a magical adventure anytime I open one of her books. I am so in love with her writing, it’s so fragile and beautiful and perfect, I sometimes can’t even put into words how it makes me feel.
A Million Junes was just as hypnotically magical. Henry works off a familiar Romeo + Juliet formula of vengeful and cursed families, mixing in a large does of magical realism that blends easily with the supernatural. This is a tricky combination, but Henry does it beautifully. This could have easily been filled with cliches and predictable moments, but she creates such interesting concepts and magical elements that nothing seems like it’s trying too hard.
Like her previous work, there was an incredibly strong female friendship here that didn’t once falter at the introduction of a boy in either of their lives, which I will endlessly applaud and love. Henry seems to put such an emphasis on strong female friendships and I really wish we saw more of that in mainstream entertainment.
I also couldn’t get enough of the chemistry between June and Saul. They shared a lot of similar feelings and upbringings and I felt they fit really well together. I felt that June really came into her own during their relationship and he was a vital part of her finding out the truth about her family and their tie to his. June was kind of hot and cold towards him sometimes, which I felt a little annoyed by – I know, I know, a curse, forbidden love, etc etc, but we all knew what was ultimately going to happen, the back and forth of should I, shouldn’t I was a waste of precious reading time.
I was a little confused about the inclusion of June’s writing teacher, though. I imagine she existed because June needed a push in another direction towards college and a life she didn’t really consider before, given her dreams of traveling like her father. But it seemed a little half-formed, we never find out if June actually goes to college, the teacher seemed to create more conflict than motivation or inspiration for her. I thought that if she were going to be a part of things, she’d at least have a larger role in a turning point for June, but other than showing her that she has some writing talent, which doesn’t really go anywhere in the book, I can’t see a good reason for her to exists.
This was really close to a perfect read for me, but I was sadly underwhelmed by the ending. The story built so much up on grief and loss and love and June was absolutely obsessed with walking in her dad’s footsteps and never letting him go. When everything came together in the end and the true realities of the depths of the grief and pain in these families came to full light, I don’t know, I was kind of disappointed with how it was all revealed. It seemed repetitive and a little preachy to me. The messaging was strong, but I almost felt it was too strong and kept drilling into me the need to let go and move on and while it was beautifully written and you felt the strong emotional bond between June and her father in full fruition, I just wasn’t 100% swept away by the whole thing. It’s possible that I’ve been lucky enough not to have experienced a similar kind of grief yet in my life and thus, didn’t fully relate to these deep and very powerful emotions, but like I said, I felt underwhelmed. Minor detail though, as every other single page up until that point had me pouring over them and chasing after June and Saul as they skipped through the memories of their past.
There are a handful of authors who tend to take me to a completely different realm anytime I read their work and Henry is very easily on that list. She truly is an incredible storyteller and I will drop everything to read her beautiful, creative, magical stories.