In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Book Title/Author: In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster May 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
| Goodreads | Author website

I received this book for review from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After Honor’s older brother is killed in Iraq, Honor discovers, on the night after the funeral, an unopened letter from her brother  sent before he passed away. Honor reads the final words of Finn and decides to embark on a journey to California that she believes Finn is sending her on.  Standing in her way is Finn’s former best friend, Rusty, who shows up at the house drunk after years of the two not seeing each other after Finn & Rusty’s falling out.  Rusty, who has the tendency to act like an ass & downright piss her off, convinces Honor to let him join her on this journey. Along the way, the two reconnect and help each other cope with this monumental loss and learn things about each other and about Finn — things that help them relive memories & dull the pain, some that help understand past actions & things that downright catch them off guard and make them realize that perhaps everything wasn’t always as it seemed.

Road trip? A quest that a deceased family member sends the character on? A hint of a possible romance with two unlikely and unsuspecting characters? Coupled with the fact that I had previously read and loved Kirby’s debut novel Moonglass? This had all the makings to make me do a ridiculous happy dance when it arrived on my doorstep.  And that I did.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby was a quick read for me as I immediately found Honor’s devastation thrust upon me and then, once the road trip started, I got to  feeling like I had hopped in the car with Honor & Rusty and settled in for the ride with my hair blowing in the wind & singing along to the classic rock.  The road trip has it’s fun moments for sure but this journey you quickly discover is more focused on the emotional one Honor needs to endure full of hard lessons, facetime with her grief, revelations she doesn’t want to here & opportunities to step outside herself and live.

At times my heart just pained for her, and for Rusty, who shares in her grief. Sometimes it felt like little was happening in this book as a lot of it DOES take place in the car and at stops along the way but then sometimes you felt like when it rained, it poured and I questioned how much more could Honor endure (the storm, the whole police incident & then the big reveal).  It was a pretty emotional read though sometimes the beauty in Jessi Kirby’s books are that they aren’t TOO “heavy” to handle. There is still a lighter feel to them despite the grief and the tragedy surrounding the story. I didn’t get this all consuming feeling where I felt I was being suffocated by the grief  just as the character was like in (one of my favorite books) The Sky Is Everywhere. Whereas The Sky Is Everywhere felt like my heart got run over 50 times over by a cement truck, In Honor pierced and at times stabbed my heart. Still heartwrenching but not to the degree that some teen books about grieving are.  Rusty sometimes creates quite some comedic relief and some of the more swoony moments certainly help to distract.

Speaking of Rusty, knowing that Jessi Kirby is a HUGE Friday Night Lights fan (Texas Forever!!) and many people saying Rusty was based on Tim Riggins (ow ow! Man of my dreams) from FNL, I could NOT read this book without picturing Tim Riggins — which I certainly didn’t mind — but I wonder how I met have felt towards Rusty if I didn’t associate him with Tim– knowing the heart behind the tougher exterior. I mean, seriously Rusty can be a straight up douche sometimes that you wonder why Honor doesn’t kick him to the curb but eventually, like with Tim Riggins, you start to see the mess that lies underneath Rusty and realize his hurt and how mangled that is.

As far as the romance goes,  I’m not sure whether I think there is a true connection there or if I think the romantical aspect was an attraction to someone who understands your grief and it makes you feel better. I couldn’t tell. Maybe that’s why I did find the ending so fitting. Maybe that was the point of it. To not really know in the wake of all these crazy emotions and feelings. But I can’t say I was head over heels for the romance element to this book — I appreciated it wasn’t this instanta-love from the moment they got on the road — it was a slow unraveling of affection that hinted at something more. But I also wasn’t sure I saw what suddenly made her go from bff’s little sister to something more. Was it just that she “grew up” and got boobs? I couldn’t get a sense if there had been something always underlying in their relationship.

My big complaint?  While I really felt for Honor, she never really  jumped off the page for me. I couldn’t figure her out. Which also made me feel weird towards the way she responded to a certain revelation. She seemed to bounce right back from something that would have had me huddled in a ball for days feeling guilt upon guilt and what-ifs. And from what I thought I knew of her, I just expected a different reaction.  The ending really was when I started to kinda feel like I understood where her head was and the fact she had no clue who she was after a HUGE piece of her was ripped away. But even then, unfortunately I don’t think she’ll stick with me the way other characters do when I experience their grief alongside them. I liked her just fine but she just wasn’t fully realized for me.


My Final Thought: Between Moonglass & In Honor, Jessi Kirby has definitely grabbed my attention has an author whose works I’ll keep buying.  In Honor has realistic characters that are complicated & have authentic voices, really smooth & accessible writing, romance that doesn’t overshadow other really great parts of the story & a journey that had me grabbing for the tissues but also chuckling and just feeling some sort of togetherness with mankind and the resilience of the human spirit. And I have to say, as much as the ending might make some feel unsatisfied, I rather liked it! This is one to pack in the beach bag this summer, friends!


Book Review On A Post-It:

 In Honory Review Jessi Kirby

You May Also Like: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Great review, Jamie! I recently read this too and I didn’t love it as much as other readers have. I wondered if it had to do with me not having watch much FNL? Also, I agree about Honor, I didn’t feel like we got to know her but I could understand that he was hurting.

    • Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I LIKED it but I wasn’t IN LOVE like I was with Moonglass or nearly as much as friends of mine. Maybe I got way too excited about it or something and built it up to be AMAZING. And that’s why I really do wonder how I would have felt toward Rusty if I hadn’t been picturing Tim Riggins the whole time. I can’t even answer that because I just don’t know. lol. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t connect with Honor…I was sad because I WANTED to. I really did.

      • YES THANK YOU, JAMIE. I agree completely – I liked Moonglass, but it wasn’t an instant fave or anything, you know? I think In Honor showed a lot of awesome growth in Jessi Kirby’s writing and I seriously loved In Honor, although I am totally with you on Honor bouncing back pretty quickly…but I guess people just grieve in different ways, and I liked how Jessi Kirby showed that with her characters.

  2. I am so so so relieved to see this review. I read “In Honor” on my trip last week, and I felt a little disappointed as well. I knew so many had loved it and it didn’t have that same affect on me at all. While I loved so many of the details — the stars, the margaritas, chemistry with Rusty, the lanterns… it ended too soon with too much coincidence (I dont want to spoil it but I think you know what I mean) and I just wasn’t fully there. I could have used another chapter between R and H to sort of some to a conclusion of some part… maybe a convo with another family member, her best friend? I don’t know. Something was missing for me there. But you know what. I still love Jessi Kirby and you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll be reading her next book. Moonglass is great. She comes up with very authentic stories and I can only imagine what her next book will offer.

    Thank you for your honest review (as always) and I apologize for writing a novel in response.

    • I am so relieved to see YOU say that. I literally thought everyone was SO in love with this one. I mean, I liked it quite a bit and it was enjoyable read but it just didn’t have anything WOW to me. AND YES..about the coincidences. GAH.

      I think those scenes that Jessi Kirby is able to paint (esp the stars!!) are just flawless and I think that’s why I really enjoy her books. And her books really do have that authenticity to it that I crave in my YA. I know that I’ll always enjoy her books..I just can’t say that I was SUPER blown away! So thank YOU for your comment because I felt like there was something wrong with me!

  3. Great review Jamie! I haven’t read this book but I have seen that many people either love Honor or have some issues with her. I did feel that way about Moonglass too but I liked it enough!

  4. Tim Riggins!! Texas Forever….sigh. I
    I was the tiniest bit disappointed with the fact that (SPOILER) there was no solid resolution or happily ever after. I like my HEA’s. But I still loved it. Mostly because of Rusty. 🙂

  5. Great review! I read Moonglass not long ago and immediately went and bought In Honor. I felt similar towards Moonglass that you had with In Honor, which makes me think I’ll probably enjoy it too. Can’t wait to read it!

  6. I haven’t read this yet but I was super excited until I heard mixed-ish things. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this book but maybe not LOVE it, if that makes sense? It’s actually the Tim Riggins thing that gets me. I absolutely love Friday Night Lights but it’s weird for me for a character to be blatantly influenced by another character, y’know? Hm, I guess I will give this book a shot soon and see what I think! Thanks for the honest & insightful review. 😀

  7. Check, check, check. I really want to read this this summer!

  8. I’m going to comment about Friday Night Lights. As you know, I started watching it like two weeks ago. CONFESSION: I watched all five seasons already. I could not turn it off. I got home from work, changed in to my jammies (ha!) and immediately started watching. So ummmm hellooooo why didn’t I know about Tim Riggins before?!? I started off in love with Matt but quickly switched all my affection to Tim. Holy hottie with a heart of gold. My only slight quibble was who he ended up with in the end (I really wanted it to be someone else). I’m also equally in love with Coach and can’t decide if I would want him to be my dad or my husband. And I honestly never thought that would be a dilemma haha! So, anyway, I totally read your review (which equaled mean just getting this from the library) but mostly what I took away from it was TIM RIGGINS. In case you can’t tell, I kind of need someone to gush with about FNL. I’m SO glad y’all told me to watch it & glad I now own all 5 seasons. I’m realizing I’ve just written a mini-novel about FNL. Just remember: you created this monster by telling me to watch such an AWESOME show! xoxoxoxo

  9. See, I need characters who jump off the page, so that kind of sucks that Honor does. BUT then at the same time, I should like very much to read about Tim Riggins.

    Also I quite like grief books, isn’t that sick? Ha ha.

  10. I have yet to read this, but since you’ve recommended it for people who like 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, I’m really looking forward to it. It sounds pretty good in theory, so I’m definitely crossing my fingers!


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