Author: Jessi Kirby
Genre: YA Contemporary, Grief, Road Trip,
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Synopsis: Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.
Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only 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 him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn–but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?
☆: 4/5 stars – Just as good as I expected it to be!
After the amazeballs, sobworthy novel named Golden, I knew I needed Kirby’s two other novels. This was the easier one to get between it and Moonglass, so I bought it recently. I was also in the mood for something short, so I started reading this when I really should have been staying on my reading schedule (which has suddenly happened due to book explosion). This falls just short of matching Golden‘s majesty and emotional touch, but it’s a fun novel nonetheless. Not just fun, really. Great!
It’s the kind of book that makes you alternately laugh and cry. The first chapter’s funeral scene made me genuinely cry and captured the sadness of being a slain soldier’s little sister when she’s forced to take the flag at his funeral. While they’re on the road, there are plenty of mournful moments when they talk about Finn and what he meant to each of them. The scene toward the end with the paper lanterns going out to sea? Borderline sob material.
It’s not a sad book, though. There are plenty of laughs too! Like the story of how Finn and Rusty figured out Honor’s prom date was the same dress size as her (the guy being a size two in women’s is a bit of a stretch, but I’ll go with it) and made her try on the dress Honor eventually wore to prom. It even tapped into my nostalgic love of the Suwannee River with the scene at the creek. There’s no counting how many people swung on a rope and jumped into the Suwannee the way Rusty and Honor did the same for their creek. In runs the whole gamut of emotions, really.
Honor is a bit difficult to connect to at first because she’s so obsessed with her strange little quest to get to California and see Kyra Kelley, but once she and Rusty are out on the road and hashing out their differences, it’s easier to see the girl beneath the obsessive quest and the grief. It took me a while to get to liking Rusty too, but once it was explained why he snapped at her the way he did sometimes, it all made sense.
What stops this from being a five-star novel is Honor herself, sadly. Her moment of slut-shaming in particular. When talking about a girl Rusty hooked up with in the back of a car on homecoming night, she calls her slutty. Really? REALLY? No. Not cool. The only time I deal with that kind of stuff is when it’s in a book that deals with sex (due to our culture, it’s going to happen; I want to see it challenged, though) or the issue of slut-shaming itself. Come on, it was so CLOSE. This is why slut-shaming ain’t cool: it might be all that keeps you from a glowing five-star review from a woman who rarely gives them.
I bought Kirby’s debut novel Moonglass on a bookstore trip earlier today and I’m going to try my best to fit it into reading schedule between ARCs. Then I’ll be caught up on her backlist! Fans of contemporary YA who aren’t already reading her books should start doing so right now.