December 31, 2012

Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Title: In Honor
Author: Jessi Kirby
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Page Count: 240
Source: Borrowed from the New York Public Library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only 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 him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

So when I started this book, I was working off the summary on the book jacket, not the one provided by Goodreads. I would recommend that anyone who wants to pick this up read the latter, as the former doesn't really explain the plot. Normally a bad book jacket summary wouldn't matter, but for such a slim contemporary novel, I think it's pretty important to know exactly what's about to happen so you don't have to spend precious pages trying to orient yourself in the story.

Let's break this down:

I really like this book. I do. I just feel like the beginning is a little clunky. 

First there's the funeral, which is as awkward as that hug the army general guy gives Honor at the end of it all. Then the book kind of rushes a bunch of the pertinent details - the letter from Finn, Honor's decision to road trip, how Rusty ended up going with her and a couple of other bits and bobs. Part of my irritation at the beginning of the book is definitely because of the rushing and the fumbling to put the story in motion. The other part, unfortunately, is due to the previously mentioned vague plot summary on the book jacket. I just didn't realize what the driving force of the book was and when I found out it was a popstar's concert, I was a little concerned at the fluffiness of that event juxtaposed with a death of a soldier and brother. But it works in the end. Which is pretty amazing, I think.

Anyway, despite the rocky start, I kept going. Good thing, too, because the rest of this book was absolutely wonderful. Once all the distractions are gone and the book becomes about Honor and Rusty's amazingly nuanced relationship, Jessi Kirby's meaningful story and lovely prose are given a chance to really show the reader exactly what this book is capable of.

The loss in this book is meaningful and profound - from both Rusty and Honor perspectives. Both of their relationships with Finn, the deceased brother, are so terribly sad, each for their own distinct reasons. And y'know what? Even though we only really get to hear about Honor's feelings, since the book is written from her POV, there are these tiny little windows into what Rusty's going through that really hit me hard. I absolute love these moments and wish there were more of them - but at the same time, I'm almost happy there aren't because this book is really about Honor.

I like Honor. She's the kind of girl who says what she thinks, regrets it and then tries to reign it all in, which results in her not saying enough. She does what she thinks she needs to do to make everything right in her world and even if she's wrong, she keeps plugging on. She's sheltered and even when Rusty forces her to see it, she's honestly tries to deal with it, even though she knows it's not something she can necessarily change, but instead something she'll have to own and incorporate into her life. Honestly, I think she and I would be friends.

And then there's the backdrop of this whole story. I think Jessi Kirby could write about frozen tundra and I would still want to go visit. The vivid descriptions of everything, from the Texan/New Mexican desert to the Californian sea side are just beautiful. Y'know what? I think it's time for a road trip. Who wants to come?

The long and short of it?

Plot: There's just enough tragedy, good fortune and bad luck to make the whole thing work.
World Building: A devastatingly unfortunate scenario that Jessi Kirby really brings to life.
Character Development: Once I got past the slow start, I really began to feel for Honor and Rusty.
Prose: Again, once I made it through the first few chapters, the writing is earnest, clear and emotive.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you can push yourself through the first 20 pages or so, the rest is definitely worth it.


  1. I'm really glad that you ended up liking In Honor, even though you struggled with the beginning. Sometimes, I find, that the best books or the books I end up loving are the ones that have slow starts...

    1. It's almost more rewarding at the end, I think, if the book is hard to get into but then turns out to be amazing.

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