Reviewed by Maggie: May 7, 2012
Published: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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My unofficial title for In Honor is 33 Shades of Blue. This isn't mommy porn; this is straight up Maggie porn.
There are a lot of reasons to read In Honor -- likable main character, road trip to California, scuba diving (who knew it could be so hot?), and some really beautiful images of nature. But really, there's ONE main reason:
Before I digress, and I will digress, let's talk plot. In Honor begins with our main character, Honor, at the funeral of her beloved older brother, Finn. 18-year-old Finn, the high school football star who rejected his college football scholarship to enlist in the Marines, died while serving in Iraq. A few days after he dies, Honor gets a delayed letter from him written months before his death. This isn't a meaningful, symbolic letter written while in the trenches because a) there aren't any trenches in Iraq, and b) this isn't a paranormal romance where the characters know when they're going to die. Rather this letter is more along the lines of a you-always-complain-about-me-never-writing-you-any-letters-so-here's-a-letter letter.
However, as a surprise, Finn included two tickets to see Kyra Kelley, Honor's all time favorite singer, in California. Finn closes the letter by telling Honor to put her feet in the ocean and tell Kyra Kelley about "her handsome older brother." Honor knows this isn't some final dying wish of his, but as a way to hold on to him, she chooses to interpret his letter literally. All you readers who complain about how underdeveloped parents are in YA, this isn't a problem here. The parents are killed off way before the book starts. (Is it wrong to put a smiley face here? Yeah, probably. Okay, moving on...) For Honor, losing Finn isn't just losing a brother, it's losing her only family. This makes her impetuous decision to drive alone from Texas to California, without telling anyone, to see a concert believable. Sure, she's grasping at straws but you can understand her motivation. However, she doesn't end up making the trip alone. Enter Rusty.
Rusty was Finn's best friend. They did everything together from the time they were 5 years old, including rebuilding a classic Chevy Impala. However, when Finn decided to enlist instead of going to college together, their friendship cracked. This is why Honor is surprised when she spots Rusty at the funeral. What doesn't surprise her is that there's a beer bottle wrapped in a paper bag at his side. He spots her the next day as she's preparing to leave for California in the Pala, and he invites himself along. This is where the story really begins.
Now let's get back to #33. This is why I love YA. Jessi Kirby unabashedly loves Friday Night Lights and Tim Riggins and unapologetically writes him into her story.
|Picture of Jessi Kirby posted by Heidi Kling on Twitter.|
Look at the shirt! How can you not love her?
However, such is her talent that it doesn't read like fan fiction -- or my diary. Tim is the base, and the face and the voice (at least in my head), but the character is Rusty. There are times when Rusty says or does something and it's just that much hotter picturing Tim Riggins saying and doing it. Including talking about foot sweat. It cracked me up when Honor, after having shared a beautiful moment with someone else, is walking through the woods pondering the sweetness of lif--OH HAI, SHIRTLESS RUSTY. Can you blame her? Not even when Rusty says things like,
"There's a lot they like about me, H, but it doesn't have much to do with football. Or conversation."
I put a "33!" in my notes here. Speaking of my notes, I needed to buy a bigger pack of Post-it flags. And the "HO HU" is actually "UH OH" and it refers to tequila. Most of those notes refer to Riggins-worthy moments, but my favorite notes involve Finn. I loved Finn, or rather the memory of him. If you've read Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer, the sibling relationship in In Honor rivals that. I sobbed through Twenty Boy Summer, but In Honor has a much lighter tone with notable poignant moments. There are two endings in this book. The first one, I loved. I thought it was true to the characters and as it should be. The second ending... I didn't need. Don't get me wrong, it was SUPER cute, but I didn't think it was necessary. There are some predictable scenes but overall, I really enjoyed where this book took me. And for Honor and for me, it's about the journey, not the destination.
Rating: Riggins would tell you to read this book. 4/5 stars.