In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release date: May 8, 2012
Summary: Honor has just attended her brother Finn’s funeral. He was the only real family she had left. When she opens a letter that Finn mailed her before he died, she finds tickets to her favorite pop star’s final concert—and tongue-in-cheek directions to tell that pop star about a cute boy named Finn. Honor takes the letter seriously, and decides to road-trip out to California to attend the concert—and hopefully fulfill Finn’s final wish. Things don’t quite go as planned with Rusty, Finn’s best friend, decides to tag along.
My thoughts: Can we give Jessi Kirby a crown for writing fantastic YA about dealing with grief? She did it with Moonglass, and she’s done it again with In Honor. Kirby’s sophomore novel is a little more upbeat than her debut, which is a nice change of pace, but it still has a tremendously powerful storyline. And, of course, it has a sweet, sweet romance that will turn you into a puddle.
Although Honor is the protagonist, she’s outshined by her road trip partner, Rusty. He’s a bad boy with a drinking problem, but he’s ridiculously sweet. Readers will absolutely fall in love with him—I know I did. The chemistry Rusty has with Honor is perfect; Jessi Kirby knows how to make you ache for a happy ending between the two—and until then, she knows how to write great (often hilarious) banter.
Rusty might be the sex appeal, but Honor is the heart of the story. She’s the girl next door, which makes her easy to identify with. But Honor is also a little bit broken, and the story progresses as she heals. Like I said, Jessi Kirby knows how to write a good story about grief: she gives all of us that have suffered loss hope for a happier future.
There may only be two main characters, but In Honor has a few hidden gems, in terms of minor characters. Finn’s Chevy Impala, for example, almost has a personality of its own, and its struggle throughout the road trip neatly parallels Honor’s. Rusty’s mother and her boyfriend have their own charm, too. It’s this attention to the little things that makes Jessi Kirby’s writing stand out, and makes her stories feel real. Speaking of stand-out writing, there are times when Jessi Kirby pauses the fuzzy cute aspects of the story to hit us with a wave of emotion, usually relating to Honor’s memory of Finn. These moments are so exquisitely written: they manifest in the sparkle of the sea or the glory of a sunrise, and you can’t help but be swept away.
If you’re looking for a moving story that isn’t too much of a tear-jerker, pick up a copy of In Honor. The hilarious road trip antics will put a smile on your face in no time.
For those who like: Road trips, cute boys, stories about grief.