“In Honor” by Jessi Kirby
Release date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 240 pages
Thank you Simon Teen, for sending me a copy of the book!
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? (Goodreads)
Why You Should Read It: I think I’ve mentioned again and again how much I love roadtrip books, but I also have a particular interest in contemporary books that deal with grief. As an orphan myself, I feel a kinship to characters who’ve experienced loss. The sadness in Honor’s heart is nearly unbearable. She’s not only orphaned, she’s just lost her brother Finn — her rock, her beacon, her one remaining tie to her parents. Grief is easy to explain (her brother died; her parents are long dead) it’s incredibly difficult to describe in an authentic voice. Kirby lovingly conveys the way grief can be quiet and overwhelming all at once. Grief can also be a catalyst, and Honor’s need to do this one thing for Finn, no matter how impetuous and irrational it seemed at first, made perfect sense to me. A quick, compelling read with believable characters, this is a must-add to any YA summer reading list.
Why It’s Great for Summer: Like I said about “Reunited,” there’s an obvious summer theme to roadtrip books, because when else do school-aged adolescents get to go on them? Like the best roadtrip books, there’s a deeper underlying reason to the trip beyond “Let’s go see this Taylor Swift-like singer’s final public performance!” I think anyone looking for a meaningful but engrossing contemporary this summer should check out Kirby’s tribute to loss and love.
Swoon Factor: There are a couple of boys of interest in this story. Honor is super-briefly attracted to a sweet California boy she and Rusty encounter during a brief stopover. They share a romantic free dive together (she’s literally coupled to him), but their time together is too short to develop anything but a strong but temporary infatuation. Then there’s Rusty himself. He’s an arrogant, headstrong bad boy who is hotter than the sun and knows it. If I were to stop there, Rusty would be just another cocky hottie with a heart of gold, but there’s actually so much depth to Rusty. He — and his history of brotherly love with Finn — is complicated and intense. Rusty initially has trouble realizing Honor is no longer a pesty little sister, and he keeps saying jerky things like commenting on her foul cowboy-boots-with-no-socks foot odor. But as they log on the miles, their chemistry is spectacular, and by the time they finally share that inevitably explosive kiss, it’s obvious they could have a future together that’s as intense as their shared love for Finn.