Family histories can be patched together from the memories of family members, but it might not be an entirely accurate account. A Million Junes by Emily Henry delves into the memories and tales of the O’Donnells and Angerts, which had started a long-standing family feud.
June O’Donnell, legally named Jack after all the men in her family before her, has been raised in the Michigan town her family helped to found with the Angert family. But a feud between the families keep them apart, at least until Saul Angert, son of her father’s enemy, comes back to town and June can’t seem to avoid him – thanks in large part to her best friend’s romantic escapades. After spending some time together, magical things start happening that show June and Saul the truth about their families’ history, which leaves them reconsidering the tales they were told growing up and whether to cling to the historic fight or move forward.
With the core of this story pulling largely from Romeo and Juliet with a sprinkling of Hatfield-McCoy, the elements of magical realism that were interwoven through the Whites that showed glimpses of memories to June, the ghosts, and coywolves helped this narrative to stand apart from the familiar arc of forbidden love. The relationships between characters felt natural and changing dynamics developed realistically over some time and contemplation; however, the creative writing teacher was the one exception that felt a bit forced, both in her character and role in pushing the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed the snarky and witty remarks that June and Saul made, despite how it wasn’t entirely believable (although a personal ideal for conversation).
Overall, I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.