By: Melanie | April 11, 2015 | (45) Comments

Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi KirbyThings We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 304
Source: Received in exchange for review
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When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

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.

Golden was one of my favourite novels that I read in 2014, so naturally, I was expecting many things for Things We Know by Heart. Unfortunately, I don’t see this novel getting on my 2015 favourites list; but that being said, it won’t be sitting on my most-hated-novels-of-2015 either. Instead, Things We Know by Heart will be somewhere in the middle; somewhat unremarkable in my eyes.

When Quinn’s boyfriend (Trent) dies in an accident, his organs are donated. Five of Trent’s organs are given away, and when Quinn reaches out to the recipients in hopes to bring herself back on her feet weeks later after the incident, only 4 people respond. It is the boy who received Trent’s heart that doesn’t reply to Quinn’s letter. Still believing that meeting the boy will help her come to terms with Trent’s death, she tracks the boy down, and discovers that he lives closer than she actually thought. And what Quinn doesn’t expect is that she falls for the boy.

My main criticism for this book was the lack of an emotional connection between me and the characters. I was not fully immersed into the read, and I honestly felt like an observer as opposed to being right in Quinn’s head. It’s not that I didn’t like Quinn–heck, I really liked the girl. After her first awkward encounter with Colton, Quinn is rushed to the hospital to get stitches on her lip. I could immediately empathise with Quinn because when I was 9, I fell off a sofa and almost bit my entire lower lip off from the impact. I had to go to hospital and get 4 stitches. But today, 6 years later, you cannot even tell I had an accident there because my lower lip covers the tiny scar. ANYWAY (I am getting totally off track here), you can see why I felt like Quinn and I should become instant biffles. We practically had the same accident (except I cried much more) (and I didn’t get to meet a cute guy along the way) (boohoo for me) but as the story progressed, I didn’t feel any empathy for neither Quinn nor Colton. It sucked because I wanted to love these characters so much, but it evidently wasn’t happening.

I do need to say though: I LOVED QUINN’S GRANDMOTHER! That woman had me in fits of laughter with the things that come out of her mouth. I loved her attitude and how she didn’t care less about what others thought of her–she just did her own thing, and made sure no one got in her way.

Another issue I had with this book was that the plot left a lot to be desired. For me, it is very obvious as to how this book concludes, but what makes me interested is the path that leads the characters to that ending. Alas, that path that the characters go on is an incredibly predictable, somewhat boring, and pointless-drama-filled one. Before going into this novel, I was expecting a book that was about a girl dealing with the grief of someone she loved, and how she comes to terms with it. Instead, for me, the message that I felt was coming from this book was: ‘you must find true love to forget and replace the burning and aching grief.’ I mean, what kind of message is that? Quinn’s emotional journey did not seem fully discovered, and neither was Colton’s because the romantic arc was taking over the storyline. And this links back with my first issue of not being able to connect with the characters. These characters, while seemingly fun and loveable on the surface, didn’t have a lot of backbone to go on with. I wanted to know more about Colton’s past, and more about his own journey before he was donated Trent’s heart. I want to know more of how he and his family dealt with it afterwards, too. Sure, we do get snippets of how Colton dealt with it afterwards, but the love story seemed to take up all the spotlight when the journey of these characters should have been. 

What I wanted was more. More. More. More depth. 

The emotional journeys that our two main characters were supposed to go on only scratched the surface of their potential. I felt like I was reading your average fluffy love story instead of one that had the potential to be profound and hopeful story of dealing with grief. Things We Know by Heart turned out to be incredibly mediocre, for this story line is one I’ve read several times before. 

View Spoiler »

While Things We Know by Heart does not sit on par with Golden, this novel was still a quick and fluffy read. It wasn’t a chore to finish, but it didn’t do anything for me for this story has been written several times before and didn’t hit many of the right notes. 

~Thank you HarperTeen for sending me this copy!~

2.5 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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45 Responses to Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

  1. Annie says:

    Great review sweetie. I’ve liked JK’s past books too, but the romance is always a ‘background’ thing with her, so the 180 turn around would’ve surprised me too! However I do like romance and I’ve read enough sad stories in the past year (thank you John Green and associates!) so I might find this quite refreshing. RE books on grief, my favourite is The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, now there’s a woman who can make her reader FEEL!

    • Melanie says:

      Thanks Annie!

      Right? I love how Kirby does her romances when it’s just in the background. While it was sweet and all, I just wasn’t sold on it ._. Omg right The Sky is Everywhere is perf xD

  2. Shame you didn’t have much of an emotional connection with the characters. Sometimes I personally find that can really effect my enjoyment of a book–and what a shame to hear it doesn’t sit on par with Golden! I remember that was one of my favourite books that I read last year. So wonderfully written with a great plot. Even though I think I might as well check this one out. I might like it now that I know what I should be expecting from it.
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    • Melanie says:

      I think that one of the most important things to make me like a book is about having that emotional connection with the characters. Yes, Golden was the best! I read it last year too and it stole my heart.

  3. Hmmm. I’m not loving what you’ve said about this one. I don’t like the message of replacing your grief with new love either. I’m not a big fan of contemporary books so I’ll most likely skip this one. I had been curious what it was about though.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Crimson Bound by Rosamund HodgeMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, I just couldn’t deal with the idea of replacing your grief with a new love. I guess Kirby wasn’t trying to do that, but it’s all I could see happening the whole time. Maybe give it a go to see? I seem to be in the minority.

  4. I have to say I’ve seen a lot for this book and I think it certainly has a mixed vibe for it. I haven’t read any other books by this author though so I’ll be interested about Golden. I love when you have some awesome secondary characters, they really make up the novel I think. Great honest review. 🙂
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  5. Valerie says:

    Eh glad you loved it at least. I’m slightly sad that it wasn’t better, because I was anticipating reading it this entire time, but we can’t all get what we want 😛 Though I did expect the plot to just be eh, because there is only so much you can do with a plot like that. BUT NO CHARACTER DEPTH? Well I mean not as much depth? That sucks. I’ll have to read it myself and see then
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    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, at least a liked it to some point! Right?! I wasn’t meant to read this until only a week ago but nope, I picked it up as soon as I downloaded it off Edelweiss.

  6. I was underwhelmed by this one too! I mean, I did love the romantic arc, but I had problems with Quinn (she was kinda blah, and I agree with your spoilers!). The thing that really saved the book for me was Kirby’s writing. So, so gorgeous!
    But, yeah, Golden remains my favorite of hers.
    Great review, Mel!
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  7. Second review of this book today that expressed the same gripes as you did, Melanie. Sorry it wasn’t all that you’ve expected it to be.
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    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, this one seems to be getting some mixed reviews! Glad there are people who agree with me, but it’s sad all the same because I expected so much more from Kirby.

  8. Kim says:

    Aw, I’m sad that you didn’t like this book. I really loved this one and I really felt connected to the characters. But anyway, happy reading! 🙂
    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG
    My review of Things We Know by Heart

  9. Aw, I’m sad it didn’t live up to Golden. *sigh* I hate it when that happens for second-books-by-authors. MAKES ME A PUDDLE OF SADNESS. anyway. 😉 I still do want to read this, but the lack-of-uniqueness-in-the-plot and the emotional disconnect gives me squinty eyes. >.>
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  10. Sorry you didn’t really like it! This book is one of my most-anticipated books in 2015, and I had a high hopes for it. I predicted (or hoping) that this book will brought me tears, but I’m not really sure it will, especially after you say that it’s more about ‘finding a true love’ rather than ‘dealing with grief’.

    Anyway, great review, Mel!:D
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  11. Nara says:

    Aww sorry you didn’t enjoy the book more! I totally get what you mean with what you said under the spoiler tag though. It didn’t affect me as much as it did you, but DANG it was frustrating!
    Nara recently posted…Review: Ensnared by A.G. HowardMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, things like that really get to me because there’s so much build up… and then the character just pulls back. LIKE WHAT THE HELL YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO ME

  12. Yup, it does sound fairly typical of the YA contemporaries we’ve read, with the romance taking over the plot and a character we can’t connect to – even though you had the SAME accident! Does this mean you are back from your trip Mel? <3
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  13. Nice review – I’m sorry this one fell a bit flat for you. I haven’t read anything by this author, but I guess I should try Golden over this one. That sucks the romance took over the plot.
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  14. Awwww! I was really looking forward to your review. I love connecting with the characters and if there is no connection, the story starts feeling bleh to me. And Mel, be careful, woman. We don’t want you to have another accident, geez lol Anyways, I will be pushing this one back on my TBR. Great review, like always 😀
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    • Melanie says:

      Haha, well truth be told I had another accident in the same place so when you look closely at it, there are two scars on top of each other heh. Thanks, girl <33

  15. Romi says:

    I’ve said before that I really love this book’s cover. It’s so interesting and the movement from a physical heart to what we recognise as a heart is such an unusual and thought provoking thing to have on a cover. I really enjoy that aspect of it. But the novel itself? It doesn’t sound like I would enjoy it. I haven’t read any of Kirby’s work, though I do remember Golden being huge, and though this does sound like an unusual (if, yes, slightly predictable) plot, I think- from your review- that it wouldn’t be one that particularly entranced me. And the romance seems like it could have felt dis-ingenuine, because though it mightn’t be realistic, wouldn’t they both wonder if she fell in love with him because of his heart, the link to her boyfriend?
    Sorry it wasn’t a fantastic read, Melanie- here’s hoping your next is better. Xxx
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  16. Aww…I’m sorry this was a bit mediocre for you Mel, especially considering how much you loved Golden. I think this is what the majority of reviews have been saying – that it’s a decent read; but not one that will necessarily stick with you for a long time. Thank you for your honest review though!
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  17. Awww, this makes me sad, especially since I loved this book so much (and I don’t usually adore contemporary novels!) and wanted everyone to love it, too 🙁 I do respect the reasons why it didn’t mesh with you, though! There are just some book that won’t click with us. Although I have to agree with her refusing to tell Colton about vital things, when telling him wouldn’t have harmed anybody at all O_o
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  18. Lily says:

    Awe Mel! I know so many people had high hopes for this one and coming off of GOLDEN, I can see how you wanted this one to be amazing and well…remarkable. I enjoy decent reads but when authors release amazing books that stay with me, I want all their books to do the same 🙁
    I hope your next read is more enjoyable and memorable Mel!
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    • Melanie says:

      Yes, I hope so too! Right? It’s always a shame to be disappointed by one of your favourite authors, but there isn’t much you can do about it 🙁

  19. I TOTALLY agree! I didn’t have any emotional connection with the characters… and if anything, I liked the secondary characters so much more than the main. I absolutely needed more depth to the story (especially about Colton’s background!). I’m bummed because I was super excited for this one and it just wasn’t as great as I hoped.
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  20. Ksenia says:

    Great review, Melani! I was a black sheep and didn’t love Golden, but I still hope to find a book by Jessi Kirby for me. I’m not sure this would be it. Like you in books dealing with grieve I want more depth and don’t want fluffy love story.
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    • Melanie says:

      Thank you Ksenia! 🙂 Oh, that’s very interesting to know. Hey, maybe this one might be your cup of tea, haha. But yes, if you want more depth that is actually authentic, I personally wouldn’t rec this.

  21. Yay for lip injuries!I have one myself too.When I was 4,I fell into a cardboard box,when I attempted to sit on it.I bruised my upper lip badly,and though its faded now,there’s still a pronounced indent on my upper lip.
    Anyway,I really wanted to read this book when I first heard about it,but now,the mixed reviews are making me hesitate a little.However I think,I should give this book a chance,as I really love the concept.
    Great review Melanie!
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  22. I feel the same about this book. I enjoyed it on a basic level, but I know that it’s not a book I will remember for having any kind of impact on me by the end of the year.

    I just felt like there was a lot of potential that wasn’t really taken up on. Like you said: no emotional connection. Sure, there were MOMENTS that I felt for Quinn and the pain she was going through, but overall I just didn’t really have an emotional investment in the story or the characters.

    And now that you brought it up, the book DOES kind of have a “you need love to heal” vibe, which is actually pretty terrible when you come to think of it.

    Lovely review, Mel! <3
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