Kinky-haired blerd Juniper Bray used to believe in magic, until she lost her best friend: her grandmother. Now this 15-year-old shy girl is going on her dad’s research trip to a farm hundreds of miles away to stay with a family she barely knows and the opposite of a best friend, her new arch nemesis, Bree McKinney. Little does she know the next few months Juniper will discover magical powers she never knew she had, stumble into her first crush and well, quite frankly, save the world.
Juniper Leaves is a fantastical coming-of-age tale of a girl who learns to let go, live a little, and best of all, believe in herself — all by her sixteenth birthday.
So, I saw this recommended a few weeks ago on Twitter and just loved the name. I then saw the cover and adored it and since I was looking for a new Kindle Unlimited book it seemed perfect!
Juniper is an adorable “blerd” (black nerd) who is dealing with the recent loss of her grandmother. Her and her cousin, Breen, discover that they have magic powers and need to protect the Earth from enemies from a different plane of reality. The plot itself isn’t that complicated, it’s a rather standard “chosen one gets powers and saves the world” but well, something doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. I enjoyed the worldbuilding and the magic system, although not super fleshed out, was fun. It’s nice to have a light, fun story every now and then and this was definitely that.
What I was not such a big fan of though were the characters. That’s a lie, they’re actually all great but at the start, Juniper and Bree do not get on for what seems really ridiculous reasons. Juniper thinks Bree is awful and is incredibly rude to her and it just…doesn’t make sense. Thankfully once we get past this to where they start bonding, it’s much better. I think the fact that it’s in the first person didn’t help this part because we see Juniper’s thoughts and instead of helping us understand her reasoning, it just made me more annoyed at how she was treating Bree just because they’re not very similar.
As is obvious by the fact that Juniper is described as a “blerd”, the main character in this is Black. Not only that, but most of the other characters are her family and so are all also black. There’s also a f/f relationship that occurs later on in the book and so if you’re looking for something nice and diverse, this is definitely something to add to your TBR!
If you’re looking to read more books by black authors for Black History Month then I’d definitely recommend this as a nice light read. It’s good for those that enjoy Fantasy set in our world and I saw it recommended for those who enjoy “magical girl” stories.