Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby [twitter • website]
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: death of a boyfriend, transplant donor recipients, moving forward
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Quinn feels unable to move on until she has closure about Trent’s last donor recipient, Colton, who received a heart transplant. When their two worlds collide, Quinn knows she should tell Colton who she is, but it’s easier said then done when she starts developing feelings for him.
• • •
Quinn’s boyfriend is killed in a freak accident while he’s out for a run early one morning. Quinn wasn’t with him, but any other day she would have been. When Things We Know by Heart opens, it’s been 400 days since Trent’s death. 400 days of Quinn’s life being on hold — removing herself from her activities, failing to apply for college, sleepwalking through graduation, and distancing herself from her friends. The one thing she’s successfully managed to do is meet four out of the five donor recipients.
But the fifth one puzzles her; why hasn’t he responded to her letters? Consumed with finding him, she pinpoints where he is by the magic of the Internet and stumbling upon his sister’s blog. Colton received Trent’s heart and Quinn feels if she could just see him, maybe she could finally feel some closure. She goes to his home town to catch a glimpse of him, but her startled clumsiness causes them to do more than bypass one another and begins a sweet friendship.
As the days tick by and Quinn’s silence becomes deafening, she knows she’s gotten in too deep with Colton. She knows she should have been upfront about who she was, especially once she can’t seem to think of him as just a friend. Though their relationship isn’t an honest one, she just can’t seem to back away. Kirby did a phenomenal job creating a complex storyline — How does Quinn reveal herself and not risk heartbreak (again)? — but she peppered Things We Know by Heart with great adventures, an awesome connection between Colton and Quinn that just made me smile, and really, really strong family dynamics. (The bond between Quinn and her sister Ryan is so authentic; when Quinn least wanted to get out of bed, Ryan was there to shove her out of it and to speak truth when it was the hardest thing to say.)
Things We Know by Heart is ultimately a simple story of moving on when you’re not sure you should or are able. Plus a sweet romance. The strength is in all the small details that are layered with beautiful moments and pacing that feels so effortless. I love that Jessi honed in on heartbreak and moving on and did it so, so well.
(My really, really minor complaint would be that I would have liked to have seen some of those friends Quinn neglected for the last year filter back into her life, but really — such a teeny tiny thing to have hoped for in a darn near perfect book.)