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Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Review

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

In Julie Israel's latest book, JUNIPER LEMON'S HAPPINESS INDEX, Juniper Lemon lost her older sister Camilla to a car accident 65 days ago, and the hole her sister’s loss leaves in their family’s life is almost unbearable. Juniper’s life has already been turned upside down --- she can feel it in the way her mom has turned into a recluse and the way everyone at school avoids her and whispers about her as though she is something delicate just waiting to break --- but little does she know that a letter she finds will change everything again.

Juniper finds a note in her sister’s purse exactly 65 days after her death, a letter addressed to someone named “You.” Juniper soon realizes that “You” was her sister’s secret boyfriend, and is determined to discover his identity in order to deliver this message to him. Then, Juniper accidentally loses something that is dear to herself, and her quest to find this and You’s identity lead her on a whirlwind adventure that takes her to new places, new people and new truths.

Definitely deeper than most young adult reads, JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX is quite different from anything I have ever read. The idea of a happiness index in which one measures how happy they are on a daily basis fascinates me, and I loved watching how something as simple as an index card helps Juniper grow and deal with her grief in a more positive manner.

'I would recommend JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX to all fans of young adult fiction who are looking for a poignant, meaningful tale that will offer you a new perspective on love, loss and life itself."

Though many of the characters were slightly cliché, they all played a significant role in helping along Juniper’s self-discovery. The various personalities that Juniper’s friends have are also lovably different from the typical cliques and friend groups one reads about in young adult novels, where everyone in a friend group feels too similar to one another. Juniper and her friends, on the other hand, are so much more realistic, which made their story both engaging and realistic for me. In addition, I especially enjoyed the relationship between Juniper and Nate. Most young adult books have the female protagonist fall in love with her male best friend, but I love how Juniper and Nate demonstrate how perfectly normal and common it is for two heterosexual teenagers of the opposite sex can be really close friends without any romantic feelings developing.

The ending was not exactly what I hoped it would be, but I respect Julie Israel’s choice to conclude the story in the manner that she did, tying up all loose ends in a completely unexpected way. All in all, I appreciated Julie Israel’s ability to tackle such heavy topics in a way that is not crushing or overburdening. Juniper’s strength as a character is heartwarming, as well as the continuous support her friends offer her. I would recommend JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX to all fans of young adult fiction who are looking for a poignant, meaningful tale that will offer you a new perspective on love, loss and life itself. 

Reviewed by Niraja S., Teen Board Member on July 28, 2017

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index
by Julie Israel