Welcome to the penultimate stop on the blog tour for Emily Henry’s A Million Junes! Today I have an author guest post and giveaway for you.
About the Book:
There are two things everyone in Five Fingers knows about the O’Donnells and the Angerts. One: They’ve been there the longest, ever since the town was first founded in the Gold Rush days. Two: They hate each other.
June O’Donnell–a.k.a. Junior, a.k.a. Jack, a.k.a. Jonathan O’Donnell IV, a.k.a. the first female O’Donnell first-born–has always been haunted–in more ways than one–by her family’s complicated legacy. When June’s father and best friend, Jack III, died suddenly seven years ago, she made up her mind to skip college and live the life of adventure that her dad always wanted for himself. Now seventeen and heading into her last year of high school, June is itching to leave her ghosts behind in Five Fingers and travel the world. It’s not that she’s not happy–she is, mostly–grief has left her with an emptiness that she believes only real life experience can fill.
But then what kind of O’Donnell would June be if an Angert didn’t swoop in at a crucial moment and ruin everything? Enter Saul Angert, the eldest son of Eli Angert, a.k.a. June’s father’s mortal enemy, back in town from a writing career in the city to care for his ailing father. Somehow June’s path just keeps getting tangled up with Saul’s, no matter how creatively she tries to avoid it, until the unthinkable happens: She finds herself intrigued by this gruff, taciturn, yet strangely tender boy whom she was born to loathe.
But when June and Saul accidentally stumble into a bit of the forest magic, they are allowed a glimpse into the past at the fateful, horrible moment that started all the trouble between their families. Now, everything is different. The only problem is, June doesn’t know if this new discovery means she should hate the Angerts even more, or if it’s finally time for her–and all of the O’Donnells before her–to let go.
Four Novels Featuring Curses
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of curses, the idea that one decision or action can carry consequences out across the rest of a person’s life, perhaps even beyond death. In fiction, I’m drawn to the strange, the magical, and the surreal, but to me the very best stories find a way to marry the impossible with the essential, with the truth.
I believe in curses. I believe that one decision, one action, has the power to ripple out across your life, transforming it and you, and sometimes even the people who come after you. I believe that each of us carries pieces, good and bad, of the people who formed us. We’re built out of our families’ collective fears, their failures and heartbreaks and unhealthy beliefs, as much as we are of their joys, their victories, and their passions. Sometimes, without even knowing, we are carrying generations’ worth of unpacked baggage. Our lives are “rippled” by decisions we had no part in, controlled by a moment deep in the past that changed everything.
But while I believe that’s true, I also believe we have the chance to change. To accept the good passed down to us and let go of, or even transform, the bad. In fiction, like in life, sometimes people find ways, big and small, to wrench themselves free of the things that control them; other times they carry their burdens to the end.
Either way makes for a compelling story, because deep down, I think many of us relate to the feeling that we have been made of found parts, that sometimes even pieces of ourselves can be our enemies.
And no matter how strange, magical, or surreal the content of our stories, what keeps them in our hearts is that we see the truth in them.
Here are four beautiful novels that explore the ripple effect of curses, whether they call them that or not.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
This strange and dreamy novel spans four generations of a family, following them from France to Manhattan and finally to Seattle, where twins Henry and Ava Lavender are born. From her birth, Ava, who was born with seemingly unusable wings, the Lavender twins have been protected by their mother in two overarching was.
First, they’ve been kept in their home away from their peers, where they can’t be mocked or scorned for their differences. Second, they’ve been warned, time and again, how “love makes us such fools.” Throughout the Lavenders’ family history, this mantra has been proven time and again, each romance ending in some new variety of tragedy. While the stories of the earlier generations are a spectacular blend of whimsy and tragedy, the book really begins to soar as it follows Ava in her quest to push against the constraints she’s lived under and test the theories about life and love that have been passed down to her. Equal parts hopeful and heartbreaking, this novel beautifully explores the many shapes love comes in and the transformative healing to be had when we let go of the past.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
When it comes to both family curses and magical realism, Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude reigns supreme. This multigenerational novel follows the Buendía family through the founding, growth, and ultimately destruction of the fictional town of Macondo. Much like its founding family, the Buendías, the town of Macondo seems doomed to repeat its history, each strange and magical event directly resulting from the last. The town and family are caught in an inescapable loop of tragedy and loss shaped by their beginnings.
This hypnotic novel will catch you in the best kind of reading haze and have you thinking for weeks about the curses, micro and macro, we might be subject to.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
This absolutely delightful fantasy novel utilizes curses on a more literal, magical level. Sophie, the eldest daughter of a hat maker in the magical kingdom of Ingary, finds herself cursed to look like an old woman when she crosses paths with the vindictive and cruel Witch of the Waste. Freed from obligations by her sudden transformation, Sophie leaves home and finds work cleaning for the notorious wizard, Howl, in his moving castle. Infamous for allegedly eating the hearts of beautiful young women, Howl’s living under his own secret curse, cast on him by a spurned lover.
With fire demons and magically fused-together people, this romantic romp is not only an extremely fun read but a thoughtful meditation on how the way others think of us, and even the way we see ourselves, can be curses in their own right.
Holes by Louis Sachar
Equal parts mystery and comedy, this upper middle-grade novel follows Stanley Yelnats, a boy from a cursed family, whose “bad luck” lands him at Camp Green Lake, an inaccurately named juvenile disciplinary camp where inmates spend their days digging holes.
While the kids are told they dig purely to build character, Stanley begins to suspect the Warden might actually be looking for something, and starts his own quest to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the holes. What follows is an ecstatically fun, immensely clever tale of interconnected histories, with the so-called curse of the Yelnats at the very center of it.
About the Author:
Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.