Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby follows Quinn Sullivan, a girl whose boyfriend recently passed away. Trent, Quinn’s boyfriend, was an organ donor and recently all of the people who survived due to Trent’s choice contacted Quinn which gave her some closure to Trent’s death. However, the boy who received Trent’s heart has not made contact. When Quinn finally meets Colton, the recipient of Trent’s heart, she finds herself falling in love with him. However, the situation grows complicated when she withholds that she was searching for him.
I saw Things We Know By Heart as a Kindle deal one day and decided to pick it up because the plot sounded interesting to me. I didn’t expect this to become one of my all-time favorite contemporaries, however, I still expected to enjoy the story. This book generally met all of my expectations. While Things We Know By Heart is a decent story, it isn’t one that sticks with me.
One of the best aspects of this book is the knowledge of the organ donor process. I think the author does a great job of explaining if, and how, organ donor recipients can be contacted. I appreciated that the author included this background knowledge for people who may not be familiar with the process. There are quite a few contemporaries that I’ve read where the main character’s love interest dies before the story starts, but I’ve never seen this aspect included, which helped set it apart from other similar stories.
That being said, the way Quinn goes about meeting Colton goes against all of those boundaries. Obviously, Quinn is someone who is grieving. On top of that, she also came into close contact with the accident that killed her boyfriend. Plus, she’s a younger teenager who may not always think through the consequences of her actions. However, her decision to neglect all of those rules that protect the privacy of organ donor recipients made me feel a little bit uneasy. Before Quinn met Colton, she practically knew everything about his life. Although she just wanted to see him, when she met him, she did not disclose any of this information. I know this was a major driving conflict in the story, but I wish it could have been done a little bit differently in the story.
I also have mixed feelings towards the pacing of the story. I thought the beginning and middle moved at a good pace to move the story along, but still provide the necessary background information about all the characters involved. As for the end, it felt a little bit rushed. Like I mentioned earlier, Quinn’s “research” into Colton would be extremely jarring to him and his family when it came to light. However, there’s a convenient “plot twist” that diminishes Quinn’s actions. This was a bit of a disappointment to me because I wish this was solved in a more satisfying way.
Overall, Things We Know By Heart is your average young adult contemporary. It contains young characters you’ve likely seen before, but offers something just a little bit different to make you somewhat remember the story. For me, there were aspects of this book that needed some better execution to make me really love it. I give Things We Know by Heart three out of five stars.