Harper's older sister June, the family's favorite, has killed herself just before her high school graduation. Harper's parents, wrapped up in their own lives and grief, have decided to split June's ashes between them and have left their younger daughter to grieve alone. This is how Harper does it:
She takes off across the country, from Michigan to California, with her BFF and her sister's stolen urn, in the black van of a handsome, young, music-loving stranger called Jake Tolan, who was her sister's secret friend.
To be honest, I found the first part of the book to be a bit annoying. The author does this thing that many authors do, which is try to be cool by making references to pop culture and political events (which actually make me confused as to when this book took place. It was published in 2011, but the references make me think it took place about the time that I was Harper's age, 2002ish. It's definitely after 9/11 and the invention of the ipod, while Bush is president, when people protested using the phrase 'no war for oil,' when it wasn't unusual for a teenager to use a discman, and when a teen could reference Full House and Lorena Bobbitt) and by lyric-dropping (i.e. "and then he sang a song about the day the music died"). Erg.
About halfway through, though, this method of story-telling was dropped for a more emotional narrative, and I liked the book a lot more. Lyric-dropping is replaced with more thoughtful use of music - with playlists at the back. The romance was pretty nice, actually, and the not-quite-a-resolution with June was satisfying and realistic.