by Jessi Kirby
To be published on April 21, 2015
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!