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Book Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

I finished reading In Honor by Jessi Kirby on an airplane.  I sat there for a moment and finally, I couldn’t resist the urge any longer, I turned to the stranger sitting next to me – the one not drooling and snoring but playing Angry Birds on his computer – and said, “I’m sorry, I just need to tell someone – this was a glorious book.”  He blinked a few times, clearly trying to understand what could possibly be happening here, and looked at me and said, “I’m . . . glad.”  Sometimes a book is just so good you need to tell someone, and so I did.

In Honor is a soul satisfying read about a glorious cross country trip through the journey of grief.  Yes, I know I already told you it is glorious, and I’ll work on expanding my vocabulary later, pinky swear, but it’s just – glorious.  It is just such a satisfying read that reminds us that everyone must travel their own journey through the tunnel of grief; there is no right or wrong way – it just is. 

Honor has just graduated from high school and instead of spending the summer partying, she is burying her older brother, Finn, who was killed in Afghanistan.  On her dresser sits a letter he sent before being killed, unopened.  When she finally opens it Honor finds tickets to the farewell concert of their favorite popstar – in California.  Her brother tells her to go to the concert, have and adventure, and tell Kyra Kelley about him.  So she feels that she must.

Rusty ends up tagging along for the ride.  Oh Rusty, broken in so many ways.  He’s the boy that makes every girl swoon, and knows it.  Rusty was Finn’s best friend for years, though they had a sudden falling out when Finn enlisted in the army.  He also has taken to some serious alcohol consumption to help drown his sorrows, literally.  The journey begins with Honor behind the wheel of Finn’s beloved Pala and Rusty passed out in the passenger seat.

Like all good road trips, there are obstacles that pop up along the way. And some incredible moments that you don’t normally get to experience in life.  There are moments of raw, honest emotions.  And those moments when all you can do is laugh out loud because, let’s face it, you can’t spend 24/7 on the road with someone without the occasional embarrassing moment.

Each moment In Honor adds up to – wait for it – one glorious road trip. (Yes, yes – I’m sick of me too. But you know, it really is a glorious read.)  Honor is both naive and self-assured, she is broken but still likable.  Rusty is the type of guy who seems like he may be one way on the surface, but along the way you learn what ripples beneath those sharp edges.  Every teen girl who reads this book will fall in love with Rusty.  Heck, not so teen girls will, too.

In Honor is a story with a lot of heart, even if it is a broken one.  There are no pretty bows at the end of this journey – Finn is still going to be dead after all – but there is the satisfaction in knowing that Honor and Rusty are at the beginning of their healing journey, even if they are at the end of their road trip, and that they are probably going to find ways to be okay.  And as a reader, you close the pages of this book having taken this amazing journey with them, and you are soul satisfied.  In some ways the novel itself seems so simple, but the emotions involved are oh so rich and complex.  There are moments of rich detail, touching phrasing, and a slight smoldering just below the surface.  A definite 5 out of 5 stars.  And in case you didn’t hear, I think this is a glorious road trip novel. I now duck as you throw things at your computer screen.

Have you read In Honor? Am I right or am I right about the “glorious”? How do you describe it? Tell me in the comments. Karen