Review: Juniper Skies by Lora Richardson

Juniper Skies by Lora Richardson

Series: Juniper Series #3

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Format: Kindle

Source: Author

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon 


Delphine has been traveling in an RV with her grandmother since she was two years old. Abe has never lived anywhere but Juniper.

Delphine has seen America, but life on the road is lonesome for a teen. She’s never had friends her own age, a job, or her first kiss. When her grandmother buys a house in Juniper, it seems like everything Delphine longs for is finally within reach. She quickly makes friends, but Abe, the one friend she wants the most, keeps pushing her away.

When Abe meets Delphine at the Founder’s Day Festival on her first day in town, he can’t deny that she intrigues him. But his life is too complicated to make time for friends. His father is getting out of prison, and Abe doesn’t want him to return to Juniper and undo all the changes of the last four years. But how can he keep that from happening? And can he dare let Delphine be his friend and find out about his past?

Delphine’s life has been a nomadic one, traveling the country with the beloved grandmother who raised her. Now she’s looking forward to settling into life in Juniper the summer before her senior year of high school. She even has a list of things she wants to do – Friday night football games, a lunch table filled with friends, and her first kiss. Again and again she finds herself spending time with quiet and broody Abe, despite warnings about him from her new friends. And working alongside him at a part-time job shows her a much different side to Abe than the boy her friends describe.  

“I liked the way he backed down when I was right. I liked other things about being around him, too. I liked the way he’d look at me, but look away as soon as I noticed. I liked that I didn’t feel the need to be on my best behavior. I could let down my defenses some. It felt safe to be my messy self with Abe.”

Abe has a history in Juniper. And everyone knows about the event four years ago that shattered his family and sent his father to prison. Since then, Abe went through a couple of rough years, getting into trouble, and now he might as well be invisible. He keeps to himself and his former friends keep their distance. And then there’s Delphine – a girl who doesn’t know his past and who ignores his attempts to rebuff her friendship. He’s spent so long living on the fringe he’s not even sure how to talk to her. All he knows is that he wants to, because when he’s around Delphine he finally feels a sense of peace.

A lump rose in Abe’s throat and he clenched his hands into fists beneath the table. He hadn’t said the things he wanted to say in a long time. He hadn’t let anything matter in an even longer time. The things that mattered were the things that could cause pain.

I adored Delphine and Abe, both separately and together. They were both lonely and in need of a true friend who would accept them as they were.  As their friendship developed I often found myself reading with a big smile on my face because they were just so good together. Delphine was friendly and open and just filled with positivity. She practically radiated sunshine. Abe was living with a staggering burden of guilt and self-loathing and my heart broke for him again and again. But it was so rewarding to watch as he started to come out of his shell, learned to open up to Delphine, and began to allow something good back in his life.

People told him he didn’t have anything to be guilty about. But it didn’t matter if that was true. Abe felt the need to atone. So he did. Every day.

Returning to the small town of Juniper was like getting a warm hug. I’m not often drawn to rural settings, but there’s something about Richardson’s bucolic little town that makes me want to pack up and head to Indiana. Sure I want to wander around the park, hang out at the pond, and get some ice cream at the Dream Cone, but it’s the people that really draw me in. I want to hang out and talk to Fay at her tea shop, I want to spend time soaking up Gram’s wisdom and Marigold’s kindness and acceptance, and I want to be friends with Delphine. It’s Richardson’s multi-layered and oh so genuine characters that keep me coming back for more.

"Hey, it's going to be okay." I didn't know what was upsetting him so badly, but I figured it would probably turn out okay.

He didn't look at me but shook his head. "When? When will it be okay?"

I swallowed, the hurt in his voice reaching down through my ears and pinching my own heart.

Juniper Skies has so many of the elements that I love in a YA contemporary: realistic characters and dialogue, loyal friendships (no mean girls in sight), parents and other adults who are present and flawed, and swoony romance that is slow paced and feels completely genuine. I can’t understand why this series does not get more attention because it truly deserves it. Let me put it simply: if you enjoy contemporary YA, you need to read this book. (While you’re at it, do yourself a favor and read the whole trilogy.)  This is likely the final book in the Juniper series and while I will miss these characters, I’m excited to see what comes next from Richardson. Because after three amazing, heartfelt novels, I’ll read whatever Lora Richardson writes.


4/5 STARS


Note: A complimentary copy was provided by the author. This is no way changes my opinion of the book or the content of this review.



12 comments

  1. Sounds like a nice contemporary without a lot of drama.

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    1. Nothing over the top, though, which was nice. :)

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  2. Yeah! I love hearing about books set in the middle of the US. This sounds very sweet and totally me. I have to check it out.

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    1. Oh Sam, I think you would love this series! They are just such good examples of contemporary YA and I've enjoyed all three so, so much. I don't think they're any grief issues (sorry - LOL) but maybe you could look past that. Haha.

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  3. The small town setting of this story really appeals to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book.

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    1. What's funny is that I rarely go for small town settings but I sure loved it in this series. I may not want to live in a small town (not for me!) but I sure would love to visit Juniper. :)

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  4. Oh wow! This book sounds so good. I added it to my wish list. I love the premise.

    Great review!

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    1. Thanks Angie! I hope you'll enjoy it if/when you pick it up. It's such a good story and I loved the characters.

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  5. Aw, I think I'd love Abe. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed both of the characters - together and on their own.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Abe was such a sweetheart and it hurt my heart that he carried around so much guilt unnecessarily.

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  6. I've been curious about this series, so I was happy to see your review! I skimmed it in case it would give anything away about the first two, but I *love* the quotes you chose! You seem to find the ones that will be the most impactful--love it!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

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    1. Yay! Thanks Lindsi! I don't think I gave away anything at all about the first two books. And this one can be read as a stand-alone, but because there are so many characters from the earlier books I think it'd be so much more meaningful to read them all. :)

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