Monday, April 20, 2015

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby
Release Date - April 21, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

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.
There are many stories written about grief, and it's aftermath. I hadn't, however, read a story about organ donation and the incredibly complicated situation that would arise if you fell in love with the recipient of the organs of a loved one. Jessi Kirby weaves a story of the last thing you expect ending up being just the thing you need to heal.

The characters in this are all incredibly sweet and liking them comes easily. Colton, in particular, is going to win over a lot of fans and will be on plenty of book boyfriend lists. He's nice, patient and caring. Quinn is a character that you want good things for, especially as she stumbles and makes mistakes. The only issue I had with the characters is that they didn't feel fleshed out enough. I didn't connect with them the way I wanted to, especially for a story of this nature. It made it harder to feel the emotions the story should have been bringing out in me. While it was an enjoyable read, I don't think I got the experience I could have out of it.

The secondary characters were well developed in this one. The families of both Colton and Quinn play a large role in the story and in the lives of the characters. In particular, Quinn's sister Ryan, is a driving force in the novel and it's through these characters that we learn what little we do about the two main characters. Family being predominately featured in young adult novels is always delightful and them being not just background characters is just a bonus.

The guilt, awkwardness, and questions that would arise from dating someone who received the heart of your boyfriend/girlfriend are tackled from the point of view of Quinn. We get to see Quinn go through the process, one made exceptionally worse due to the secrets both she and Colton are keeping. The element that was missing was a conversation between Quinn and Colton regarding a huge aspect of this situation. The lightly touched upon element of the heart, and whether Quinn's attraction to Colton is because he has Trent's heart is never fully dealt with, at least for me. We see Quinn work through this, but we never see Colton question it, or them have a conversation about what it means for Trent to always be part of their relationship. He connects them to each other in substantial ways and that conversation should have been vital to the story. I think it's absence created a space where it should have been, and would have added some more depth to the story. It's a complicated, complex romance with many issues to address, and I don't think it got as messy and raw as it could have.

We see that both Colton and Quinn are treated as fragile by other people, in their own way. People tiptoe around Quinn and handled her with care because she's grieving. She's treated as emotionally fragile. Colton, on the other hand, is treated as physically fragile. Neither wants this scrutiny and neither want to be a constant source of worry for others. This is one aspect that does tie them together. It's one thing that makes their connection seem plausible, while creating more obstacles for them. The notion of a heart being walled up to be protected from hurt, the same way a ship might be kept in harbour to protect from damage, is the perfect analogy for this story. It may protect it, but that's not what a heart (or a ship) is for as both of the characters discover during their journeys.

There are moments of incredible beauty in this novel, particularly in Jessi Kirby's writing. There is a scene involving a stretch of road, grief, and a sunflower that is incredibly moving and captures every emotion that scene should make you feel. It stood out to me, and was the only time I got teary eyed during the entire novel. It's one those scenes and passage I won't forget easily because of how perfectly it captures the particular emotion it's meant to convey.

A story about moving on from grief, the possibility of something new, and the bittersweetness of taking those first steps. This novel did have moments of incredible beauty, but the connection just wasn't there for me with the characters and it result in just an okay reading experience.

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