Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

SUMMARY: A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in this novel from the author of Moonglass, whose voice Sarah Dessen says “is fresh and wise, all at once.”

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?


Fun yet emotional, In Honor is the perfect blend of road trip antics, grief, and friendship with a hint of romance. With two broken central characters, and a painful tie between them, there is a poignancy to this novel that fits neatly underneath the more straightforward and even amusing parts. Fantastically written and holding some great descriptions, In Honor is a fabulous must read of a novel.

Honor a very easy character to like, the kind of girl who stays to herself in a lot of ways but who is a fierce and great friend underneath it. With her older brother as the person who’s really been taking care of her for years since their parents died, Honor takes his death especially hard. Painful to watch, her confusion and hurt is palpable from the first page. Though she’s beaten up, Honor finds a way to force herself to not only face the truth of his death but find a way to do her own sort of send off for him. From the almost spur of the moment decision to go to California, to everything that happens on the way, Honor’s development and growth is fantastically well done. With the perfect pacing for it, and some gutting truths thrown her way, Honor’s character holds plenty of the girl she is at the start while still being in a much different place in her life by the end.

Rusty is a mess of his own making, a typical playboy jock in a lot of ways. A little too dependent on the bottle, and crude and very rough around the edges, Rusty is as intriguing as he is frustrating. With a knack for cutting someone straight to the bone, and seemingly able to do it without emotion, Rusty will twist reader’s emotions right alongside Honor’s. Still, the underlying personality and intricacies of this character come out little by little, showing the boy he really is, and giving plenty of insight into who he was even before Finn enlisted. With a growing new camaraderie with Honor, and his own way of dealing with losing his best friend, Rusty’s character will stand out as much as Honor’s does.

While other minor characters come into play, Rusty and Honor are the focus of the book. The banter between them is hilarious and fun, giving plenty of light moments to the book despite the darkness over their situation. Even with this, however, Kirby triggers the memories of Finn, or the sorrow over his death at all the right moments, giving a very realistic and raw air to the book. With some great unexpected antics along the way, the road trip feel is strong and unforgettable, without being the primary focus of the book.

Beautifully paced both in plot and development, Kirby keeps readers engaged and unable to put the book down from the start. Giving big reveals at perfect moments, and shifting moods on a dime from fun to rough, Kirby’s talents shine yet again with this book. Unafraid to cast her characters in a harsh light from time to time, yet always redeeming them and making them stronger because of it, Kirby keeps this one as internally focused as it is external, creating the perfect blend between the two.

Strong in voice, and with some great descriptions that aren’t over the top or out of character for Honor, the writing is as notable as the characters and plot of this one. Though relatively low in word count, this book packs a punch throughout and will keep readers guessing not only at what other secrets Rusty might hold but whether the pair will find Kyra Kelly as they’re intending.

Having just the right amount of romance without taking away from the grit of the book, and leaving both readers and the characters in a very fitting place by the end of the book, this one is a fast but completely enjoyable read. With a potential love interest that is both frustrating and intriguing, and a protagonist who is smart but understandably blind to some things, the characters shine in all the best ways and will leave readers craving more of these two despite being a standalone. Putting a great twist on both the road trip and grief elements of this book, In Honor is a stellar book from a talented writer.

Source: ARC received from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 240 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: May 8, 2012


  1. Thanks for the review - I've been looking forward to reading this one for a long time!

  2. I really want to check this one out. I love road trip books, and the overall situation here, while heartbreaking, seems very worth exploring. Your review shows your enthusiasm for the book, and that enthusiasm is infectious. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great review. I just ordered this one and I love hearing great things about something I purchased. Really looking forward to it now.