Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Things We Know By Heart - Jessi Kirby; Review

Book Details:
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Teen (21st April 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062299433
ISBN-13: 978-0062299437


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.

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I know plenty of people have read Kirby’s other books and have loved them, and eager to join the fray, I decided to pick up one of her books and this stuck out to me the most. And of course, being the sucker that I am for gorgeous covers and titles, this one really did hook me in. 

What promised to be a gut wrenching and heart stabbing read, wasn’t actually what I was hoping for from this story. I kinda wanted to finish the book and be left gasping for breath as tears would roll joyfully down my check because this book was so amazing and just wowza. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the book as much as I’d hoped, instead it was just a good read to fill the gap. I think this could have been a better read with some additional work on the story, something I’ll talk about a little later in the review.

A plot revolving around donation isn’t one that I’ve read before, so on that count I really did like the subject matter of the book. Having lost her boyfriend in an accident, and his organs being donated to five individuals to carry on their life, we see Quinn struggle with getting her life back on track. Her sorrow at having lost her boyfriend, really was palpable to me throughout the whole story and it  hit home how hard it must be to lose and try to move on like that. Typically, you’d expect the main character to be reluctant and stubborn in even attempting to move on with life, yet I felt like Quinn refreshingly stayed true to her sorrow, and she wasn’t grounded in staying miserable. She wanted to move on, she just couldn’t. It wasn’t until she started experiencing life again (which ironically starts with a small car crash) did she really realise how much of life she was missing out on, and for that, I really did like Quinn. She was a likeable and good character whose internal dialogue was easy to read.

Aiding the story were her family, her easy going parents, her contrasting sister and her loveable grandma - all of which I loved. I felt like there was the right amount of support and also subtle force to get her to change. They acknowledged how hard things were for her, yet in her best interested, pushed and encouraged her into things they knew would benefit her. As for the other main character, which I know is what you’re all waiting for with baited breath - the hero of the story - Colton was a good character. I again felt like he was grounded very realistically and portrayed wonderfully. 

Colton seemed to me, to honestly be really lonely. When Quinn stumbles into his life, it doesn’t seem like he’s just hitting on the first girl to walk in - but instead I feel like he’s just looking for a friend, someone to connect with. He shows her all these amazing places that he loves from his former life before the transplant, and rather than using it as a lure to be alone with the “chick” - it’s more about sharing his passion with someone else who shares it. I really liked that about the friendship and the way it played out. But on the other hand, I felt like Colton’s character needed more depth. More to his story. More about his struggle and not just seen through the eyes of his sister’s blog post. In my mind, this story would have worked brilliantly as a dual alternating narrative between Quinn and Colton to really get a good look inside both characters. Quinn’s story in this instance was done well, but Colton lacked the depth that would have otherwise made him more connectable. 

In terms of the romance, for me, their connection was nice - it was mature and easy going, and though I wanted the truth scene to stretch a little more, have more angst, I’m glad it wasn’t drama filled and dramatic, but I won’t deny, a little heartache and angst never hurt anyone in contemporary books ;) Also, am I the only one who wanted to read at least one of the letters Colton wrote? That would have been a touching addition to the story, to have Quinn maybe stumble across and be gutsy enough to open the letter so we can get a more in depth look into Colton’s mind and how he handled the whole thing. Alas, twas not to be!

Still though, wonderful writing by the author, was lovely to read, well written, easy flowing and poetic at times. There was a good balance between Quinn’s thoughts on the past and present without her thinking too much about the past if that makes sense. Her love and grief for Trent wasn’t so dramatic to the point of annoying, but instead the right balance I felt between his memory and her current feelings which Quinn separated well. To make this truly epic, for me at least, everything just could have been amplified to more more more. 

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