I’M SO SAAAAAAAD.
So it’s 1987, and 14-year old June is a bit of a weird girl. She’s into medeival times, falconry, and the arts. She doesn’t quite fit in at school and doesn’t really have friends. Even her own sister, Greta*, doesn’t get her. The only person who ever really understood June is Finn, her uncle. But when he dies of AIDS, June’s left on her own. June’s family seems more angry about Finn’s death than sad. One day June gets a mysterious package in the mail. Inside are Finn’s favorite teapot and a note from Toby – Finn’s boyfriend that she never knew existed. She agrees to meet with him, and together they deal with the loss of the most important person in their lives while forming a new bond of their own.
There are so many painful things in this book. In the beginning, it hurt to see how everyone back in the 80’s reacted to AIDS – how little they knew, and how cruel they were to people diagnosed with it. The attitude that June’s family had towards Toby – that he killed her uncle – was just terrible. And throughout the rest of the book… well, obviously it’s super depressing to be reading about a girl and her uncle’s boyfriend grieving for the same person, and helping each other to get through it.
The glimpses into Finn and Toby’s relationship were really touching and sweet, and I love that June got to know Toby. I loved that June was kind of a strange girl, and even when she annoyed me at times for once I was able to remember that she’s only 14 and cut her some slack. There’s one plot thing that kind of bothered me, but it’s a bit spoiler-y, so highlight to read: Did the author really need to make June’s affection for Finn romantic? Because I feel like the entire story would’ve worked the same if she had just been really close with her uncle, and it wouldn’t have had that weird creep factor to it… Not a big deal overall, but it seemed unnecessary. End spoiler-y thing.
Basically, read this. It’s not a happy ride by any means, but it’s a touching, poignant, beautiful ride nonetheless.
Sarah Says: 4 stars
*Greta was a total bitch. It needed to be said.