Review: Things We Know by Heart by April Lindner
Release date: April 21st, 2015
Length: 304 pages
Source: ARC from ALAMW15/eARC via Edelweiss
Rating: Bah bah black sheep
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.
I'm really disappointed in this book, actually. It had the potential to be GREAT, and I know Kirby has the mega chops to pull that off. I was ready to get my heart stomped on, but it wasn't even really grazed. And I'm an emotional reader. I cry when fictional puppies stub their toes, so a book about a girl dealing with the death of her boyfriend and the grief of moving on should have WRECKED me. But there as no wreckage to be found. But everyone else was devastated by this book! What's wrong with me? Why can't I feeeeeeel??
|IT'S A THEORY|
Kirby has gorgeous writing and the book does a great job, intellectually of peeling apart the layers of grief and the agonizing struggle to put your pain behind you, but beyond that... I don't know, this book felt like it was missing something. Maybe it was the fact that the plot was missing some kind of through-line besides Quinn and Colton hanging out and having emotions. Maybe it was Quinn's total blandness, or the fact that everyone is just a touch too wise to be believable (everybody talks in Hallmark cards and fortune cookies and with PERFECT SINCERITY ALWAYS), or the fact that none of the characters quite pop (except for the sister and the grandma. Why wasn't this book about the sister??).
Colton is a very nice person, and his ISSUES were compelling, but I'm not sure HE was. When Quinn's boyfriend, Trent, was killed in an accident, his organs were donated, and Colton received Trent's heart. Another boy's death saved his life, and, again, Kirby does a great job of highlighting all the turmoil and confusion and guilt this would cause... but I never directly felt any of it.
But damn, can Kirby put sentences together. Her descriptions are breathtaking. I'll definitely read her other books, but this one completely missed for me, and I'm pretty sure it's because the main character has zero personality, so I just couldn't bring myself to care. I FELT for her in a sort of detached way, the way you'd feel if you heard about anybody who'd gone through what Quinn has gone through, but considering this book is in first person, I should have been WAY more connected to her feelings. Quinn was...sad. Quinn was broken. Quinn had...nothing else at all. I GET that she was so consumed by grief that she forgot to person, and that would be compelling if I had any sense of what kind of person Quinn was, is, or would be. Really, all I know aout her is that she loved Trent, likes to run (?!??), and gets sunburned.
Add a simple, slightly boring, rather predictable plot line in which nothing but jogging, crying, and kayaking scenes (gorgeously rendered) occur, and I am whelmed. Alas.