Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading: Things We Know By Heart

Monday, April 13, 2015

Just Finished Reading: Things We Know By Heart

Things We Know by Heart
by Jessi Kirby
To be published on April 21, 2015
by Harper

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all. Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake. 
My take:  I've been a big Jessi Kirby fan ever since Moonglass. Her books always combine a compelling setting, a sweet romance, a tinge of sadness, and a little mysticism.

Although I've seen lots of five star reviews for this book, I have to admit that it's not my favorite Jessi Kirby book. There were things about it that just didn't work for me as a reader. I think I can explain without spoilers, because this isn't a book that depends on suspense. At its heart (heh!) this book is a romance. And therein lies the problem (for me.)

As the synopsis spells out, the premise for Things We Know by Heart is that Quinn's boyfriend dies and his organs are donated. Both Quinn and Trent's family have heard from the recipients of all Trent's organs, but the heart recipient hasn't been in contact. Quinn decides to track him down, doesn't tell him who she is, and begins to fall in love with him.

Why did I have such a problem with this? Because Quinn didn't confess that she was Trent's girlfriend until almost the end of the book. Because the book seemed to suggest that the heart retains some sort of memory/identity of its source body, which suggested to me that Colton was only falling in love with Quinn because he had Trent's heart. Or vice versa. I just kept wishing that Quinn would tell him the truth and that they could work through all the awkwardness and develop a relationship. A real relationship. But that didn't really happen.

I was recently texting with a blogger friend who was reading this, and she pointed out that there have been a fair number of movies and TV shows with this premise. Return to Me, a movie starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny. An episode of The Ghost Whisperer. 

Then again, there have been real-life stories about organ donor romance. This story about a girl who fell in love with the recipient of her brother's heart. And this story about a couple who fell in love when she donated a kidney to him.

I am clearly the outlier on this book -- my Goodreads feed is full of people who loved it. So read it and let me know what you think!

25 comments:

  1. I love Return to Me. It didn't hurt that it was set in Chicago and so much of it took place at my favorite zoo. We were actually there one of the days they were filming.

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  2. I really loved this one! Too bad you didn't love it as much! :)

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    1. I know. I'm glad so many others loved it and this author remains an auto-buy for me.

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  3. Well, I can see where you are coming from, but I am on who enjoyed more, even though the dishonesty did get to me

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    1. Thanks - glad you enjoyed it and J wish I'd been able to get past it.

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  4. As much as I enjoyed this book - and I really did enjoy it - I also had a problem with Colton hiding his heart transplant from Quinn. There. I said it. They were both deceitful. So.... other than the deceit, I liked this story. Although I would have enjoyed it more if they were honest with each other from the start. It would have made a much more compelling story if they had fought the attraction or wondered if it was only there because of the heart. Or perhaps show them work through the feelings of whether they should be together or not because of the heart. The story just needed a little something more...

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    1. That's very true. I guess I could rationalize his deceit because he was trying to get a fresh start and not be a patient anymore. But I also wish they'd been honest sooner and has to work through it.

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  5. Love Return To Me, such a sweet movie. I really like the premise of this story, I'll have to give it a try!

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    1. I think I need to check the movie out!

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  6. I know that feeling! Every time I just want to shout at the protagonist to be out with it lol.... It's frustrating but sometimes there wouldn't be much of a story if they hadn't kept it a secret. It doesn't sound like that's the case with this book though? Since the truth doesn't come out until near the end, I'm guessing it wasn't much of a conflict on the story. The heart thing ya.. it's so up in the air I really don't know what to think haha.

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    1. You're right - much of the suspense revolves around the secret and I would have preferred that they had to work more in their relationship. I just didn't feel that their relationship felt real since they were both keeping such big secrets.

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  7. I'll be readig this book next week, and I'm really curious to know how I'll feel about it. I'm scared it won't work for me, either, since it's not a topic I love to see.

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    1. Most people have loved it. Look forward to hearing what you think

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  8. We reviewed this today too, and felt very similar to how you felt about it. I didn't realize there were movies and other books with a similar idea. Great review! :)

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  9. This is new for me, but from reading your review, I suspect I would wonder and be bothered by the same things. And yes, it has been done before, though I confess I wasn't aware of actual experiences of people living such stories. Another excellent review, thank you :)

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  10. Yeah - I think that would bother me that she doesn't tell him (hope that isn't a spoiler. Personally, I don't care) I actually love the idea behind this - even though it has been done before.

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  11. I hope I'm one of the readers who likes this more than you :)

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  12. I absolutely adored this one and is one of my very few contemporary books that are in my "Best books ever read" category simply because I just loved the message how life was so short but it is this fragility that makes it beautiful, too. But despite that, I completely understand why you didn't like it as much as I did! Quinn's not telling him bothered me a lot at first too, but I guess I just learned to forget about it haha.

    Faye at The Social Potato

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  13. You're not the only one who had a problem with Quinn's deception - I took a star off because the whole thing, which essentially amounted to stalking - didn't sit well with me at all. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book - Kirby's prose is wonderful.

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  14. I actually DNF this book, like the concept was very intriguing & appealing, although the plot was quite cheesy.. I agree with what you have said about being honest and the relationship wasn't developed as well - love the points you have made & I hope your next book is a hit for you :) Fantastic review overall <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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  15. Your review actually makes me happy because while I haven't read the book, I knew it wouldn't work for me the same way it did for other people.

    For the same reasons you listed to! The title does seem to imply that Colton falls in love with Quinn because he has Trent's heart and that doesn't really work for me? I mean even if it weren't true, I feel like the whole ordeal would make me uncomfortable because Colton has no idea and he is kept in the dark and here is Quinn who tracks down this guy because he got her ex's heart.

    I am sorry this didn't work out for you, Jen :(

    Lovely review, though!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  16. Return to Me is a favorite movie of mine, but I feel like they really do fall in love in that one. She is so different from his wife, you know? I'll have to see what I think about this one. If it's written in such a way that it's just not that heart then I think I'll like it, but if it's more like how you felt about it then it might not be a favorite. Of course, I'm more of a romantic than you are. We'll see. :)

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  17. Loved Moonglass as well! Thanks for sharing. I totally have to read this.

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  18. I have actually seen several reviews of this one that are less than stellar. I think the rave reviews for it have been in the minority. I am sorry you didn't enjoy it. It sounds like I may want to skip this one.

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