Title: Things We Know by Heart
Author: Jessi Kirby
Series: No series
Published: April 21, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
The summary of Things We Know by Heart from Goodreads:
Quinn Sullivan lost the love of her life when her boyfriend, Trent, died in an accident their junior year. In an attempt to get closure, she reached out to the recipients of his donated organs. Though some answered her letters, the one Quinn feels matters most–the person who received Trent’s heart–has been silent.
Nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas has spent the last several years in and out of hospitals waiting for a heart transplant. Now that he’s finally received a new heart, Colton is regaining strength, and he’s walking away from his bedridden past with no intention of looking back. He doesn’t want to know about the person who had to die so that he could live. He only wants to move forward.
But Quinn can’t let it go. Venturing outside the system to find Colton, Quinn takes a risk in hopes of finally laying her memories to rest. But what begins as an innocent conversation quickly becomes an attraction–and to make matters worse, Colton has no idea how they’re connected. His zest for life pulls Quinn from her months of sorrow but leaves her torn between honesty and utter betrayal. Because no matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost.
Considering the topic Things We Know by Heart deals with, it’s actually a surprising lighthearted novel. Yes, there’s some deep moments where the pain the characters has gone through becomes prominent, but it’s still a book that makes you feel good by the end.
Having cystic fibrosis means that organ transplant is always a future possibility. There may come a day when I need new lungs, and it’s a day I’ve thought about in passing. Would I want to know where my lungs came from? How would I deal with knowing that someone had to die in order for me to have another chance at life? Would I want to try and contact the people close to whoever my lungs belonged to and thank them? They’re tough questions to answer because no one really knows how they’d respond to situations in the future; we only know how we think we’d respond.
Things We Know by Heart tackles some of these questions. Quinn lost Trent, her boyfriend, her high school sweetheart, suddenly and violently. His death meant other people got the chance to live a full life. Quinn has reached out to everyone who got a piece of Trent, wanting to see the person who is carrying on Trent’s life. She was able to find closure with all but one of the transplant recipients. Breaking every rule, she finds the person who received Trent’s heart and suddenly becomes wrapped up in his life.
I thought the topic of organ donation and transplant was handled excellently. It’s not something easy that people recover from without repercussions. It’s not easy, physically, mentally, or emotionally. Quinn struggles with moving forward after Trent is gone. Her entire future changed in a moment and she doesn’t know how to create a new one. Colton wasn’t sure he’d ever have a future, and now he gets to create one while trying to ignore the reason he’s able to. Kirby wrote their struggles, in my opinion, perfectly. The characters don’t suddenly grow and evolve. They each take little steps to get to the end.
Parts of it felt a little predictable. It’s not necessarily bad, just predictable. It didn’t really take me out of the novel; I just noticed that sometimes I knew what was going to happen before it happened. It wasn’t really foreshadowing as much as simply guessing about the future.
I think this is a good book for contemporary, young adult romances. It deals with a tough topic, but does so in a way that doesn’t seem dark or overbearing. As long as you don’t mind a little predictability, you’ll enjoy this book.
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Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.