Review: Things We Know By Heart – Jessi Kirby

things we know by heartWhen 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.

Rating: 3/5

Organ donation is a cause close to my heart – my aunt is the longest surviving double-liver and kidney transplant patient in South Africa. She was pretty much a guinea pig at the time- in the early 90s she went into liver failure and had her first transplant – when she started rejecting that one a year or so later, they gave her experimental medication from the US that ended up poisoning her kidneys as well so that in the end she needed new kidneys and a new liver, which she was lucky enough to receive.

So this is my PSA for today: register as an organ donor! Our own mortality is not something we particularly like to think about, but once you’re brain dead you have no need for your organs, and they can save so very many lives.

Onto the book. I would have given this four stars, but I’m just exceedingly uncomfortable with the idea of our MC Quinn tracking down the recipient of her boyfriend’s heart, who has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want to be found, and then eventually striking up a relationship with him without telling him the truth? She does admit that she’s in the wrong, and keeps trying to work up the nerve to tell him, but it just didn’t sit right with me.

The author does, however, have a gift for depicting raw emotions – you can feel the weight of Quinn’s grief, even a year after her boyfriend’s death. While sadness isn’t exactly fun to read about, I liked that Kirby depicted the grieving process – Quinn doesn’t just bounce back like a month after he dies and move on – as I’ve seen in too many novels. It takes her a very long time to do more than just go through the motions of life.

I also liked the depiction of Quinn’s supportive family – from sassy!gran to the worried parents and an older sister who isn’t afraid to call Quinn out on her crap. They gave Quinn her space to grieve while still encouraging her to get out there and do small things, like going for a run or an outing. Supportive families for the win.

Finally, I loved the quotes about hearts that preceded each chapter – everything from the psychological beliefs about the heart, to the medical care of heart transplant patients.

All in all, a thoughtful read about the grieving process, moving on with life, and making the most of the days you have.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

4 thoughts on “Review: Things We Know By Heart – Jessi Kirby

  1. Kate @ Ex Libris (@ExLibris_Kate) says:

    This sounds fascinating and that is amazing about your Aunt! I can’t wait to read this book – I love Jessi Kirby’s books…..


    • fullybookedreviews says:

      Apart from that one major criticism I had, the book was very good, if rather grief-ridden. I’ve also read Jessi Kirby’s In Honour, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I plan to check out the rest of her work when I have a chance!


  2. Faye M. says:

    I absolutely agree – this book really showed a more realistic “Grief” process compared to other books with the same concept. If I lost someone I love, it would take me such a long time to move on and get over it. This is why this book touched my heart so much, because I feel like I was the one grieving with her as it felt so genuine. And yes, the family was so much win! Man, thinking of this book is making me teary-eyed again.

    Faye at The Social Potato


    • fullybookedreviews says:

      There are so many books out there where the MC gets over someone’s death in like a week. While this book may have been slow in some parts, it was far more realistic and I definitely appreciated that. And again, with so many books containing really shitty families, it was fantastic to have such a loving and supportive clan depicted.


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