Author: Jessi Kirby
Genre: Contemporary YA, Road Trip!
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Release date: May 8, 2012
Challenge: Completely Contemporary Challenge
Source: Bought it
Summary: Hours after her brother’s military funeral, Honor opens the last letter Finn ever sent. In her grief, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously decides to go to California to fulfill it.
Honor gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen Rusty in ages, but it’s obvious he is as arrogant and stubborn as ever—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Despite Honor’s better judgment, the two set off together on a voyage from Texas to California. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn’s memory—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?
Friends, it should be no secret, if you’ve been around the blog before, that I LOVE reading military-themed books. In fact, I love military-themed ANYTHING. When I first heard about IN HONOR, Jessi Kirby‘s second novel, and realized that it would be just one of those military-themed things that I loved so much, I DIED. THEN, I found out that it also featured a road trip and a romance and a guy based on TIM EFFING RIGGINS and I DIED MORE. It’s like all of my favorite things wrapped up in one book, guys, and Jessi Kirby did not disappoint. IN HONOR is bittersweet, heartfelt, fun, cute, and moving, and I loved it.
As much as I loved the premise of IN HONOR–a sad, grieving young girl goes on a road trip to honor the last wish of her brother, recently killed in Iraq–the best part of Jessi Kirby‘s book is the characters. I LOVED Honor and Rusty. I appreciated the way Honor dealt with her brother’s death–sometimes she handled it well, other times not at all. I thought her devastation and the bittersweetness of her memories and her hopefulness for her own future was a great, truthful balance and an honest depiction of grief. She also had some spunk and some fearlessness that I thought was the bomb.
And Rusty. Y’all, Rusty is broody and changeable and you can tell the kind of guy who feels things but doesn’t like to show it. He has the DEPTHS. And also the green eyes and the ABS. But I loved his confidence and his quietness. In lots of ways, he and Honor are very much the same. If I hadn’t known that Jessi Kirby based him on Tim Riggins, I still would have noticed the similarities. They have the same toughness and HOTNESS. His relationship with Honor is complicated but GOOD. In fact, to continue to the Friday Night Lights comparison, it reminded me a little of Riggins and Lyla. Whatever. Anytime something reminds me of Friday Night Lights you can all assume that it’s awesome and I loved it even if I don’t say as much.
I have to say, too, that one of the characters I enjoyed the most in IN HONOR was Finn, Honor’s brother. Obviously we never meet him in person because the book starts at his funeral. But I LOVE reading about solid brother/sister relationships, guys. I don’t have a brother, so I love to read about brothers who love their sisters and pretend that IF I had a brother, he would be just as awesome and our relationship would be just as tight. Finn and Honor had a relationship like this one–imperfect but strong. And I was just as devastated as Honor at the fact that he was gone. I felt all of her warring emotions: anger, confusion, sadness. Because I wanted to know Finn better. He seemed sweet and protective and fun and charming and AWESOME. I missed him, even though we never knew him. THAT is awesome characterization. Pat yourself on the back, Jessi Kirby.
My only gripe about IN HONOR would have to be a thing that happens at the end, and even though I might go on about it for a second, I can’t stress enough how much this gripe didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the book. It literally happens at the very end, so basically I’m saying that IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby was fantastic, except the ending gave me pause. And I’m going to have to do the SPOILER ALERT thing in case you haven’t read IN HONOR yet. So, SPOILER ALERT. Ready? Ok, here goes: So at the end, there is a declaration that one character makes to another, and I didn’t buy it so much. In general, I wish the ending had a little more meat on it. There were parts that seemed rushed to me. But specifically about the declaration, it seemed like it kind of came out of nowhere. Honor and Rusty’s relationship goes back and forth between like/unintentional flirtiness to outright dislike, anger, and cold-shouldering. Throughout IN HONOR, I obviously got the growing sense that they both liked each other and that they were crushing something FIERCE, but I NEVER got the feeling that the person who makes the declaration genuinely felt those feelings until they said so. (If it had been the other way around, I’d feel differently. In fact, I’m not so sure that the receiver hadn’t already made a declaration in a roundabout way that might have gone unnoticed.) And then I was like, “mmm….not buying it. You were pissed as hell two seconds ago, and spent the whole book feeling all ANTI this person. I bought THAT stuff at the time, but I’m not buying this.” I’d rather Jessi Kirby made the ending a little more genuine. It felt like she included the declaration because she felt like it had to be in there. Or something. ALAS. I usually LOVE declarations!! But this one had a funk about it. *Sad face* Maybe you’ll feel differently.
Guys, I’ve been waiting to read IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby for months and it couldn’t have been more satisfying (minus that little ending gripe). Really. I welled up, I laughed, I swooned, I had hope for the future and sadness for the things that were lost. Jessi Kirby writes incredibly solid contemporaries with vibrant characters and sweet, thoughtful stories. IN HONOR is all those things and more, and I hope you guys get a chance to read it.