Review: In Honor

Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only 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 him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn–but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

Moonglass was a fantastic debut, and one of my favorites of 2011. I will state right now though, that this book was ten times better, and I mean that in a completely good way. It means that while Moonglass was really good, In Honor completely and utterly blows it away. It ranks Jessi Kirby, for me, up there with Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti! Yes, it was that amazing.

From the opening pages, I fell in love with Honor as the narrator. She’s heartbroken and struggling to put her life back together after an incredible loss. It’s easily to feel sympathetic for her, but more than that throughout the story it becomes difficult to separate your own emotions from Honor’s. I was completely entangled in her story. Then, of course, Rusty passes out drunk in her car, and the two of them are off on an incredible journey across the country to fulfill Finn’s last wish for Honor. It is the makings of a great story, and that is absolutely what this book is. Filled with so much drama, adventure, romance, and grief, it took me only a few hours to read this. I could not put it down.

On the surface this is probably best thought of as a story of loss and grief, but dig beneath that and it tackles many issues. Rusty struggles to come to terms with the way his friendship with Finn ended, and with his own family issues. Honor learns to become her own person, and find her own identity outside of that as a sister. Then there is the remarkable romance that blossoms through long hours on the road. Oh, and the cast of memorable, endearing, sometimes quirky characters from the people that Honor and Rusty meet along the road, to Rusty’s mom, Kyra Kelley, and, of course, the ‘Pala, or rather “Paula”, it is impossible not to be entranced by this story.

Overall, I fell head-over-heels in love with this book. Honor is a feisty, yet vulnerable narrator, and Rusty reminds me of so many of my favorite male characters, full of wit and just a little bit bad. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti’s books will surely enjoy this one, but anyone who likes a good contemporary, romance will find themselves wishing for more of Honor & Rusty.

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