In Honor by Jessi Kirby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Surprised that I gave this 4 stars? Well . . .
(Simon & Schuster review) In a nutshell, this book was a surprising departure from some of the cliches of its genre, due to it's realistic way that grief was dealt with and the realistic characters and their relationship. Not a big fan of the cover, but that wasn't a huge distraction.
The best thing about this book is that it is realistic. I feel like a lot of books of this genre that deal with this type of issue have too many unrealistic elements. This one had a few, perhaps, but not enough that it distracted me from the message and story of the book.
It's realistic in the way that it deals with grief. The whirlwind road trip and unexpected companion seemed real in that they were the slightly crazy way that Honor was dealing with her grief. Her actions throughout rang true to someone who has just experienced an incredible loss and is trying their best to deal with it, and the youthfulness of her character gave some credibility to the fact that she wanted to keep moving forward in life. I also think Honor's character was well written because although she did some silly, irrational things, she was still a bright, positive character dealing with a hard time. I think that's almost refreshing; so many characters in contemporary YA deal with their problems by being severely depressed or turning to drugs or other similar things. This was a nice departure from that. Rusty's character was more along those lines, though still realistic at the same time as he dealt with it by dropping out of school, drinking, etc. The grief was still real with him.
The relationship between the two was also well done. Can I just say how glad I am that it wasn't "instalove" like you see in countless others? But rather they changed and grew together as they dealt with their loss. Perhaps it was a bit cliche, loss bringing two people together and all, but they didn't instantly fall on each other. It was nice to begin with the sister/brother's friend banter, and to realize with Honor that yes, you know your siblings friends, but how much do you really know them?
This unknown with Rusty's character made me doubt him a little sometimes, but was all the more wonderful when little bits of his story were revealed. A well crafted suspenseful aspect to the narrative.
A final note on the characters: So wonderful that the car was also a character in the book. A great one too.
The story ended perfectly with leaving the relationship where it was. Credit to the author for resisting the temptation to take the relationship farther. The reader was left with the perfect amount of suspense there. The little twist with Kyra Kelley at the end seemed a bit hokey, but also made the story fun, which was fine--because narratives like this need those (somewhat) surprising coincidental elements to keep it light.
Have to say, I wasn't a huge fan of the cover. It turns the focus towards the relationship between Honor and Rusty, when I felt like this book was centered more on dealing with grief and the relationship was more of a natural byproduct. It was a little cutesy and fun for that, but maybe that's what young girl readers of this genre would be attracted to in a cover and want for the content.
Overall was interesting, could have used more action but I don't see how you could have done that without it becoming more unrealistic. I got bored a couple of times when they were road tripping or when they were stopping at the mom's house, but overall not too much.
Definitely will recommend this to my students. Probably the girl students.
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