Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Review: Things We Know by Heart by April Lindner
Release date: April 21st, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
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??

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.


  1. Aw I'm sorry that this book didn't work for you. I haven't read the last book released by Jessi Kirby so I'm going to wait until this one comes out to try it. It's sad that there wasn't as much feeling with this book. If there's ever a book that can have a lot of emotion, I would assume it would be a book with such a topic as this.

  2. While I adore Kirby's writing, I gave this one three stars because I couldn't quite get over what essentially amounted to stalking - it just didn't sit well with me. Black sheep unite!

    1. Ooo, yeah, it was pretty stalkery. Definitely did not add to the swoon levels!

  3. Ahh I hate it when a book doesn't make me feel - it's so frustrating! I haven't read this yet but it's on my wishlist, hoping I enjoy it. Fabulous review! :)

  4. You were definitely able to capture your feelings on this book better than I was! I totally agree with everything you said here. I was emotionally detached from just about everything in this book and was totally bummed. It was easily my most anticipated book of the year so far and it totally fell short. I really wanted to LOVE this and FEEL things.. but I didn't. The writing was beautiful and that's what saved it for me, in some ways. Great review.

  5. Even with the weak points, I might still have to give this a shot, since I am a HUGE organ donation advocate! Oddly enough, the organ I advocate the most is the heart.

    That you for the warnings before diving into this one.

  6. Ahh, this sucks! It's always a sad thing when a book by an author you love is a miss for you :( I hope the next Kirby book you read is fab!


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