First Lines: “Be good, June Bug. Take care of yourself,” she said, stroking my cheekbone with the back of her hand like I was some doll in a china shop. “Call me on Sundays, all right?”
I special thanks to Jenny Miller, the author, for getting me a copy of this to read and review! When I saw this in my inbox as a possible read, I was all over it. This is exactly the kind of stuff I like to read.
Set in the 1950s, this is the story of June. She lives on a farm in Washington with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. She’s an outcast in high school just because she’s new to town, but her best friend is her record player. Then comes Frank, the gorgeous neighbor who is everything she could want. But soon, June finds herself mysteriously sick and it all seems to point back to Jonas, a man with an insidious plan for June. With Frank’s help, June plans revenge. Now, convicted of murder, June is forced to spend life in Washington Pines Sanitarium, where electric shock therapy is a common prescription for the girls here. It seems that something evil has followed June into the asylum…and if Frank doesn’t break her out soon, she may really go crazy.
What really drew me to this book was the portrayal of asylums from this time. It’s a weird piece of history that fascinates me. I’ve read a few fiction books where kids go into them looking for a good ghost story, but I haven’t read any where someone actually is staying in one that’s running like this. That’s what drew me in.
Now, this story can be a little confusing when you read it. Every chapter rotates its timeline. For example, chapter one takes place in the fall, or the “present”. But chapter two takes place in the spring, or the “past”. It rotates between the past and the present every chapter. It’s confusing at first, but you really get the hang of it eventually and you pick out which timeline you like best.
To the story! I really did end up liking June and the other characters, especially the other girls in the asylum. They all had stories that made them more relatable. And the action was really good, especially when you had both timelines getting to the good stuff at the same time.
However, there was a sci-fi twist to the story that made me want to sigh. I mean, sure, I like sci-fi occasionally, but I thought I was getting into a historical fiction. It just wasn’t what I was expecting, and I feel that even some of the sci-fi was a bit sketchy. No, we’re not talking aliens or anything, but it just felt that even for a sci-fi, some of this wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know how else to explain it without spoiling it. Suffice it to say, it’s a historical fiction with a sci-fi twist. If you like that thing, then by all means give this book a closer look. I just wasn’t expecting it.
Overall, it’s really not a bad read. I got through it quickly, but it wasn’t what I was expecting and that kind of hurt it.