This is author Julie Israel’s first book which just came out this past May. It’s still relatively new but I haven’t heard anyone talking about it until recently. I myself picked it up because it was the 2017 Booktubeathon “book club” pick. I unfortunately was unable to finish it by the time the Booktubeathon ended, but I have been reading it since. Since I wasn’t under the pressure of the Booktubeathon anymore, I decided to take my time with this a recuperate a little bit from all the constant reading I did in that week.
Honestly, I’m finding it hard to nail down my feelings towards this book. I was absolutely in love with it for the first half of the book. And then, the other half happened AND THE “ENDING”.
It’s hard for me to distinguish my feelings I have for the entire book and judge the book as a whole, rather than getting caught up in how much I hated the ending and how I felt walking away from the book.
I’m holding out hope that maybe my copy was just missing some pages. I’m just unsure how someone let it get published the way it is. I’m sorry but you can not have a mystery going on the entire book, literally from the very start of the novel and not reveal it in the end. It’s unfinished. I closed the book angry. Some times endings disappoint me, but this took that to a whole new level because there was no ending to judge; it was nonexistent. I, as the reader, was left in the exact some place I was when I started reading. The author gave me none of the answers we were searching for through the duration of the novel.
We follow Juniper on this big quest and search for closure. Although the author still found a way to give our main character closure, she left the reader none.
Right around the halfway mark, the book started to get really slow. Which happens a lot. But, I didn’t appreciate that in the last quarter of the book, everything happened at once. I feel like all of the events that happened all at once in the end could’ve been spread out through those really slow parts to help the novel flow better. In the end I was really overwhelmed because again, everything happened at once. None of the real conflict in the story happened until towards the end and I felt bombarded with all of this information. Whereas, the middle of the book was pretty boring because nothing was happening. I really wish events could’ve been spread out.
To my knowledge, this is a standalone and there will not be a continuation to Juniper’s story. Which saddens me, because again, we didn’t get the answers we were searching for. But, if I’m being honest, even if there was a sequel, I’m not sure I would pick it up; I would be too worried that the author wouldn’t be able to finish the story yet again.
In the end, I wish I had liked this more, I really wanted to but I just had too many problems with it and in my opinion, this isn’t a finished novel.
The remainder of this review is going to contain SPOILERS. So, if you have not read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index, and do not wish to be spoiled, please go read it and then come back so we can discuss together!
Let’s begin the review!
I am going to try not to focus of the end right now and go ahead a start with what I did actually enjoy about this book and then I am going to get to the things I wasn’t thrilled about.
I loved Juniper as a character. I enjoyed being in her headspace. I found her very interesting and unique. She was a very real and very relatable character.
I think the concept of the Happiness Index is so fun. It would be a really cool thing to do and to keep up with. I really loved that the design of the book was told by how many days it had been since Cami’s death. It was another way to implement the index cards into the book and I really enjoyed that.
I liked that although we never got to see Camilla in actuality, we got so much back story on her and she felt very real even though we as readers never got to see her. I thought she was really interesting and awesome. It was amazing that the author was able to “bring her to life” even though she had passed before the book started.
The whole book was like a scavenger hunt which was so fun. We got little tidbits of information at almost every corner and we were going through the same exact emotions and disparity to find the truth as Juniper was.
Although we didn’t dive too deeply into our side characters that much, I did enjoy the cast. Brand was by far my favorite but I also really enjoyed Kody.
Now let’s get to what I didn’t like.
I didn’t like the relationship between Juniper and her parents. I get that they were all dealing with Cami’s death in their own, different ways, but still. Anything there was any interaction between them I wanted to scream at her parents that they had another child and that they were pushing her away and going to end up losing her in a different way than they did their first child, which in my opinion, is just as tragic.
I didn’t like Nate. I didn’t enjoy his character. Any time he was on the page it felt forced, like the author really had to try to fit him into the story. And, I hated that he was the one the had Juniper’s missing index card. That again, felt forced. Also, the missing index card was another mystery that we were trying to solve from the very beginning and we finally got the answer and that moment was so anticlimactic.
Another thing that felt forced was the fight with Brand. It was honestly really stupid and the way it was written, you knew it was going to be fixed within the next 30 pages. I found it unnecessary and predictable.
So many things were left feeling unfinished for me. We would get some information and we would dwell on it for a good 20 pages or so and then it would be off to something else and that topic wouldn’t really get revisited. I hated how everything wrapped up. This had so much potential and I think the author was just trying to make too much happen in these pages that overall, it felt rushed and incomplete.
My favorite part started on page 317. I loved the wall that Juniper put together on 3 Hall with all of her Camilla prints and secrets she had collected. It was a really touching moment. All of her friends came back and helped her with it and it meant so much to her mom and it was just really, really sweet.
My favorite quote takes place on pages 299 and 300. They were spoken by Juniper’s dad and I found his words really touching.
“I know you and Camilla weren’t … on great terms at the time of the accident. And I admire that you’ve done so much for those around you since then– I’m proud of your club work and volunteering. But… you can’t just throw yourself at causes in the hopes that they’ll make up for something you can’t fix. It isn’t fair. If you hold yourself to a standard you can never attain, what can the pressure do but build until you blow a gasket? I’m just glad you didn’t hurt yourself of suffer some kind of breakdown”
And those were all my thoughts and feels on Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index
What did you think about this book? Who was your favorite character? What did you think about the ending? Would you be open to reading anything else Julie Israel writes in the future? Any quotes that really resonated with you?
ALSO, since we weren’t told who the mysterious You was, who do you think it was?
(I personally believe that it was Juniper’s English teacher)
Leave me a comment with all your thoughts and feels!
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you keep visiting!!