I will use in this review the names from the German edition, because that was, what I´ve read.
Things We Know By Heart* by Jessi Kirby
Published by Harper Teen on April 21, 2015
Quinn Sullivan lost the love of her life when her boyfriend, Trent, died in an accident their junior year. In an attempt to get closure, she reached out to the recipients of his donated organs. Though some answered her letters, the one Quinn feels matters most – the person who received Trent´s heart – has been silent.
Nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas has spent the last several years in and out of hospitals waiting for a heart transplant. Now that he´s finally received a new heart, Colton is regaining strength, and he´s walking away from his bedridden past with no intention of looking back. He doesn´t want to know about the person who had to die so that he could live. He only wants to move forward.
But Quinn can´t let it go. Venturing outside the system to find Colton, Quinn takes a risk in hopes of finally laying her memories to rest. But what begins as an innocent conversation quickly becomes an attraction – and to make matters worse, Colton has no idea how they´re connected. His zest for life pulls Quinn from her months of sorrow but leaves her torn between honesty and utter betrayal. Because, not matter how hard she´s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she´s lost.
A novel full of emotions some wonderful characters and an intriguing plot.
Why they had to change the names for the German edition is something I will never understand, but that doesn´t change how beautiful written this book is.
Mia knows no other way than to reach out to those, who received an organ from her dead boyfriend Jacob. Over the weeks and months she´s meeting with them, she heals step by step and can cope with the not only tragic loss, but also with the thought that she´ll have what Jacob never will – a life.
But the one person, she hopes the most that will answer her letter, keeps silence. And so one day, she decides to drive all the way to him, to at least catch a glimpse at the person. Unfortunately Noah doesn´t want to get in contact with her at all. A teenager himself, all he wants is enjoy his new life to the fullest and no looking back.
Anyway, the story itself is beautiful and shows what it means not only to lose a dear beloved all of the sudden but also, that donating organs can save another life. With grace, dignity and lots of respect writes Jessi Kirby about this important topic. Her sentences are clear, sometimes very thoughtful and still the novel is light to read. The reader gets caught in this wonderful play of emotions, lies, sorrows and the desperate need to find at least a tiny bit of the person that no longer is among two families.
Things We Know By Heart is written from Mia´s point of view, and still the reader is in kind of a distance. But that doesn´t put any harm to the novel. As a matter of fact, that distance lets the reader see, even through Mia´s perspective, that not everything is thinking the same way, that a donor recipient has reasons for his or her actions and that the rules are not made out of fun, but for a very good reason.
Mia tries to cope with the sudden loss of her boyfriend Jacob. His death throws her in a deep black hole and makes her life stop. She starts counting the days to try to keep the memory of him alive and starts to search for all those people who received an organ from him. Transplantation becomes her sleep at night, and during the day she is a living ghost. Her bright and happy future with Jacob no longer exists, and college plans are far, far away. Together with Jacob´s mother she meets months later some of the organ recipients and hopes that this will help her to come to an end with all of it. But one doesn´t respond to her letter even though he´s the one who got the most important organ a human being can give: The Heart.
And so Mia decides to do something, she actually has no right at all to do. She drives to the place where he lives with the intention to only see him from the distance. But life has its own plan and so Mia finds herself in a situation she no longer can control. She gets to know Noah better, has some great days with him and her guilt grows and grows. Because she can´t tell him the truth that she knows who he is and what had happened to him.
And if that wouldn´t be enough, she can´t even tell him why she wanted to meet him in the first place. So life has to hit again to help and from one second to the other things change completely – again.
In the end I was speechless. This novel isn´t only beautifully written, it also makes a deep impact on its readers.
*I read the German edition new release Fischer Sauerländer on February 25, 2016
Jessie Kirby is a writer for young adults whose first book, Moonglass, was named an ABA New Voices Pick. She has also written two other novels – In Honor and Golden. Jessi works as a middle school librarian in Orange County, California, where she lives with her husband and two kids.