Summary: It’s been sixty-five days since Camilla died, and Juniper Lemon is still reeling from her older sister’s death. What makes the hole Camilla left in Juniper’s life even bigger is discovering the secret breakup letter addressed to YOU Camilla wrote the day she died. Juniper is determined to figure out YOU’s identity and deliver the letter, even if it means discovering some of her fellow classmates’ own secrets. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is Julie Israel’s debut novel.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
**Warning: There are spoilers for Julie Israel’s Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index below**
Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index has been on my TBR radar since its release in June, and I was extra motivated to read it when it was chosen as the BookTtube-A-Thon (a reading marathon taking place this week hosted) 2017 book. If you’re a fan of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, I recommend picking Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. Both books take place in Oregon, feature main characters dealing with loss and grief, and incorporate musical elements.
While there are plenty of happy moments, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index certainly has its sad moments, as Juniper and her family struggle dealing with Camilla’s death. Each chapter in the book is numbered after how many days it’s been since Camilla died, and I feel like that helped show how Juniper is affected by her sister’s death daily. It was really hard to see Juniper’s mom so disconnected from her other daughter, so it was heart-warming to see her embrace Juniper in 3 Hall toward the end of the novel. Having two sisters myself, I can definitely picture having a fight filled with all the dramatics like Camilla and Juniper did, and I couldn’t imagine dealing with the same guilt as Juniper did. It was really interesting to see that be index card 65.
My one “disappointment” with Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index was not finding out who YOU was. Throughout the book, I found myself trying to figure out who YOU could be. I figured that it wouldn’t be Brand, especially with the growing feelings between him and Juniper, and I thought it would be too convenient for Nate to be YOU. While I figured that Nate was somehow involved in Camilla’s death, I did not expect him to be Aaron’s brother. Getting back to YOU, I am convinced that Mr. Bodily is YOU. It explains why Camilla kept their relationship so secret; there’s no way that she would be allowed to have a relationship with a teacher, and she wouldn’t even risk having any evidence of them together, like photographs. Even though you could argue that Mr. Bodily cared for Camilla as a student, he also made sure that Juniper knew that he could be a person to talk to when it came to Camilla. This is totally going off on a limb, but it’s even mentioned that Mr. Bodily is pretty young when we first meet him, so maybe he was finishing up a master’s degree or taking some classes at Fairfield while he was dating Camilla.
Overall, I enjoyed Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index way more than I thought I would. In the beginning of the book, Juniper is really depressed (which is obviously completely understandable), but I couldn’t imagine her getting out her depression. While we do spend a lot of time focused on YOU, I really enjoyed seeing Juniper building relationships with Brand, Kody, and the other characters. Plus I really was intrigued by who YOU was– hence my disappointment even though we’re supposed to be happy that Juniper knows and it really doesn’t matter who YOU is since it was Camilla’s secret.
Have you read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!