4 stars, book reviews, contemporary, reviews, ya

Nick and June Were Here by Shalanda Stanley – Book Review

nick and june were hereTitle: Nick and June Were Here

Author: Shalanda Stanley

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Book Form: ARC

Page Count: 304

Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance, Mental Illness

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Disclaimer: I received this arc in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.

“Nick and June were best friends for years, until their relationship suddenly turned into something more. Now, June is coping with a new diagnosis of schizophrenia, a secret she asked Nick to keep for too long. Between managing her symptoms and her parents, June is just trying to keep it together. Nick is a reluctant car thief, supporting his aunt with the money and focusing on his art whenever he can.

But when June’s condition sends her to the hospital and Nick’s latest crime threatens to land him in prison, the two decide to run away. When the world is trying to tear them apart, can Nick and June find a way to stay together?” – Goodreads

Nick and June Were Here is the story of a young couple, Nick and June, trying to get through life together. June is hearing voices and believes she can handle it on her own, and Nick spends his time stealing cars in order to help his aunt with the bills.  When June ends up in the hospital after a breakdown and Nick faces serious jail time after a carjacking gone wrong, they decide to run away to Nick’s uncle’s cabin.

I love the way this book was written. Shalanda Stanley’s writing style is slightly lyrical in my opinion, and I thought it was lovely. Reading and getting into this book felt dream-like. I’m not usually a fan of that writing style, but I felt like it was done well here.

I’m really into any book that tackles the subject of mental illness. Mental illness is a big part of my life – I am a mental health advocate and deal with mental illness of my own. I don’t have much experience with schizophrenia, but I felt that the author handled it respectfully and I was fascinated to learn more about it. June’s schizophrenia felt very real and it was written in a way that made you empathize and understand what she was going through. I think this is an important book in explaining mental health and schizophrenia to teenagers/young adults.

I liked Nick’s chapters a lot less than June’s. I just didn’t particularly sympathize with Nick. I felt bad for what he went through with his family, and I understood his trouble with abandonment, which made me really feel for him, but there were just so many parts where I wanted to scream at him to stop making stupid decisions! I understand that he felt he needed to help out his aunt with the bills, but it was frustrating that it was never addressed why he didn’t just get a legitimate job, instead of stealing cars from innocent people. I just didn’t see him as a particularly likeable character and didn’t understand what June saw in him.

Although some of Nick’s chapters bored me a little, I enjoyed the story overall. I loved June’s chapters and enjoyed the road trip aspect of the novel. It was emotional and hard hitting, my favorite type of contemporary, and held my attention throughout. I finished the book quickly because it was always so easy to pick it back up. I recommend this book if you want to read a hard hitting contemporary romance, with healthy mental illness representation.

My Rating: ★★★

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