Seven Days in June was everything I was promised. It's heartbreaking and funny and raw and so so romantic. There's a lot of intense content, so please heed those CWs if you need 'em.
This is a stunning debut. Williams' writing is gorgeous and strikes that perfect balance between spare and overwrought. The two main characters (in dual POV) are carefully and thoroughly characterized, with understandable motivations and actions--even if many of those past actions were Not Great. It's possible that my own life experiences colored my experience reading this book, but I was truly taken on an emotional journey and by the time we got to the end, I was a happy-crying mess.
Williams' choice to alternate between chapters from the past, when both leads were struggling and found a very short (seven days) and loving but harmful refuge with each other, was a perfect use of flashbacks. As the present day narrative progresses, the past does as well. Both are seven days in the month of June in a hot summer NYC. Eva and Shane are different people in the present, but they're also those same scared and reckless kids. Both versions falling desperately in love with each other.
The end of Seven Days in June is a bit abrupt and without the lengthy epilogue, I wouldn't have bought an HEA. At one point, these two tortured souls--with baggage from their really messed up first time together in high school--decide that they can't be together in a healthy way. What made this work in that epilogue is that both of them spent a long time doing the work to heal. They're adults with successful careers and one of them has a whole child, but they'd never taken the time to heal from their youth and I appreciated that the author made that space for them. So often in romance/commercial fiction novels, we get an incomplete arc, seemingly going with the "love fixes everything" or "he just needed to find the right woman" trope. That's not how real love works, how humans work, how trauma works.
I also appreciate that Eva's migraines are never magically "fixed." She's still struggling with an invisible, debilitating disability and there isn't some sort of *poof* clinical trial that fixes all of her problems.
This isn't an easy read at times, but it filled up my soul and made me believe in the possibility of healing.
Audio notes: the audio for this book was perfection. An emotionally intense book like this requires a strong performance and Mela Lee delivered. It's also rare that a single narrator does such a good job with dual POVs.
Content Warnings: self-harm (cutting, intentionally picking fights, etc), drug use, drug overdose, alcoholism, child sexual abuse (not on page, past), chronic intense migraines and substantial use of pain relief medications, racism, negligent and emotionally abusive parent (past), death of parents (past), incarceration (past), sexual coercion (past), character is institutionalized (mental ward, past)
I received an audio review copy of this book from the publisher via Libro.fm. I also received a hardcover copy that I had every intention of reading until I received that audio copy. It now lives in my library's collection.