April 20, 2015

Things We Know By Heart - Jessi Kirby

Things We Know By Heart Jessi Kirby book cover
Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions expressed in my review.]

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. 

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Jessi Kirby is one contemporary YA writer that has managed to capture my heart with her stories. Tales of grief and growth, of hope and healing – this is what I’ve taken away from her novels Golden, In Honor and now, in its own way, Things We Know By Heart. (Note: I still have yet to read Moonglass, which will be remedied. Soon.) 

Things We Know By Heart is the story of Quinn, a girl mourning the loss of her boyfriend Trent, and of Colton, a boy given a second chance to live a full life. Quinn and Colton’s paths cross because Quinn has figured out that Colton was the recipient of her boyfriend’s heart, and she feels like interacting with him will help her find closure. What she finds instead? It’s more than that.

If you’re thinking that this sounds like a solid plot for a movie, you’re not alone! I felt that way, too. While there are certainly bits that were borderline cliché, Kirby still manages to tell a good story. Here are the things I know by heart about Things We Know By Heart:

It made me want to visit the West Coast. No lie, I started fantasizing about a trip to California right from the beginning. Kirby captures the essence of her setting perfectly, using her words to paint a beautiful portrait for the reader. It was so easy to become obsessed with the places she described – beaches, coves, ocean, waterfall, cliffs.

Family is forever. Quinn’s family was a strong element in this story. Quinn’s parents, her older sister, her grandmother – they were all such bright parts of her life. Their endless support (in a variety of ways) and their desire for her to find happiness again was so, so strong and true. There’s also Colton’s older sister, who loves her little brother and cares deeply about his welfare.

Quinn was frustrating, yet real. She was still grieving for Trent, which colored her perceptions of the world around her and the future ahead of her. Some of her choices felt questionable, yet most of them felt authentic to her conflicted state of mind. Her experience is really tough for any person to go through, and I felt sorry for her. Sadly, I didn't quite connect 100% with her, which left me feeling slightly distanced from what was happening to her.

Colton is the type of guy you’ll want to hug when you meet him. It isn’t obvious that he’s been through anything life-threatening, though you know he has because of Quinn’s research. His determination to live his every moment with his whole self, his playful nature, and his determination to challenge Quinn to do things – it's a great combination. While he is hiding secrets of his own, he's definitely likable enough.

The romance is alright. I was okay with their interest in one another, but not particularly invested. Even though it's sensible for them to not be experts at communication, I feel like it also was a little too much for certain moments.

The plot is pretty easy to guess at. From the start, I had an idea of how things were going to turn out for Quinn, and later on, Colton. I didn't mind the predictability too much, but I feel like there are readers out there who might want to know about that beforehand.

Honestly, Things We Know By Heart will take no time at all to read. Kirby tackles different aspects of grief, guilt and learning to let go through Quinn and Colton’s tale, and I could respect that in spite of not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped. Things We Know By Heart was simply an okay read.


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