book review

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Rating: 4 stars

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The book opens with Juniper Lemon negotiating Back to School Orientation. Whilst not the most fun at the best of times, this year is worse for Juniper as over summer break her sister, Camie, was killed in a car accident. Filling in an index card every day with The Happiness Index (a scheme started by Camie to make Juniper more optimistic) is the one thing that keeps Juniper feeling connected to her sister. That is, until she loses a card, one with a terrible truth on, and her search to find it causes a secret letter to a mysterious ‘You’ to be uncovered. What follows is a delve into dumpsters (literally), her classmates’ secrets, and her sister’s hidden relationship. In learning things about others, Juniper discovers some harsh truths about herself, and befriends, at first glance, an odd assortment of her classmates.

The story is bittersweet, full of the highs and lows of high school, and the mystery ‘You’, as well as Juniper coming to terms with her grief. Throw in a school troublemaker, a handful of teenagers, each with a sizeable amount of guilt and/or secrets, a Princess Diaries reference (p sure I gave the book half a star just for that), and, of course, a whole bunch of index cards, and there you have it – a beautiful, poignant book.

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