Synopsis: For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.
Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.
As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.
Date Started: 6/24/18
Date Finished: 6/28/18
Thoughts: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first picked this novel up. It seemed like a blend of Romeo and Juliet and some Beloved-esque magical realism. I was pleasantly surprised to find a book that dealt with grief, life, and death in a beautiful way.
From the very start of the book, there are things to get used to, such as the strange pink ghost and June’s magical house, but Emily Henry managed to carefully spin the supernatural elements together with the realistic elements to craft the fabric of June’s world in Five Fingers. If you allow yourself to lose yourself in the world, you’ll have no trouble following June and Saul through their adventures to discover the truth. However, some scenes, particularly toward the end, felt a bit dizzying and hard to follow. A good portion of the novel involves exploring memories, which is definitely interesting and necessary, but occasionally I felt a bit lost. Aside from that, it was still a thrilling ride.
The pacing of the book was pretty good. A lot happens, specifically in terms of supernaturally exploring memories. Some sections of the book felt a bit slow to me, such as June’s creative writing class in school, but I do realize their importance in June’s overall development as a character, as well as to the plot to some degree.
The relationship between Saul and June didn’t feel exactly natural to me. There was some insta-love to it, which I’m not a big fan of, but at least it wasn’t immediately acted upon for a variety of factors. In fact, June tries to downplay her attraction to him for a while. Perhaps its due to their curse, or their history or loss, but to me their attraction didn’t feel very real, especially due to everything they were going through.
Despite it’s issues, I still really enjoyed this book. I read it relatively quickly and found myself staying up at night to finish it. The cover is gorgeous, which is fitting for the gorgeous, magical world within. If you enjoyed Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which is another magical realism that deals with grief, you might like this book as a YA option.