“Unpack Your Heart” Review: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

April 27, 2015 / 1 Comment / Review, Uncategorized

Things We Know by Heart

Author: Jessi Kirby (website | twitter)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source/Format: ARC provided by Harper Collins Canada (thank you!)
Publication date: April 21, 2015
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.ca | Amazon.com | B&N | IndieBound | iTunes | Google Books | The Book Depository | Audible

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.


Things We Know By Heart is a beautiful unfolding of two characters who find and need each other at the right moment. It’s a lovely character study.

The thing that works with this novel is that even though Quinn and Colton reveal bits of themselves to each other, the full story is never given right away – and yet, Quinn and Colton each realize that they can offer the other something that no one else can. Quinn needs to get out of her sadness over losing Trent, but she also needs to take some risks that only Colton could give her. And Colton needs to figure out how far he could go in being himself – without the heart transplant hanging over him – before he needs to rein it in.

Jessi Kirby writes some of the most gorgeous dates I’ve ever read in YA – every moment with Quinn and Colton just felt like another really great day I wished I could have. As a romance reader, I live for those dates where the sun is shining, the water is perfect, and you have moments fraught with desire and understanding and connection. This book had SO MANY. The connection between Colton and Quinn felt incredibly real, and their days together felt natural and perfect without feeling like they were trying too hard.

I do have a few quibbles, mainly that the conflict in this book seemed a bit too easy to resolve. For most of the book, I just wanted to get Quinn to admit that she knew who Colton was, and it was frustrating to me that it was a single miscommunication that made for the entire conflict in the book. While I realize that communication (or lack thereof) tends to be a big factor in whether a relationship is successful, this one felt like it dragged on way too long to be realistic.

My other quibble is that the book ended too quickly. I needed a darn epilogue to see what would happen next to Colton and Quinn, and even Shelby and Quinn’s parents. And I wanted Quinn to find friends again and stop living life in a vacuum.

That said, I really enjoyed reading this novel and I will definitely be picking up Kirby’s past novels for her gorgeous writing and perfect moments.


Quotes for the Heart: The novel is punctuated with informational, literary, and pop culture quotes about the heart at the beginning of each chapter. The ones that really got me were written by surgeons and medical professionals about how much more the heart could do than just be a blood vessel – everyone sees the heart as the epicenter of the body, mind and soul. Similarly, the quotes act as a grounding point for each chapter; each quote is like an artery of the heart, acting to create a holistic reading experience.

Swoonworthy Writing: Honestly, this book got an extra half star from me because the writing was so stunning. Check out a few of my favourite parts:

“And so what I remember most about that morning is standing on the side of the road, alone, darkness closing in around me as the day was unfolding. Morning sunlight on the vibrant gold petals, scattered where he lay dying.”

“Erosion,” he answers. “I kinda picture it like one of those time-lapse sequences–with waves crashing against cliffs, and storms rolling over them, and water and air finding the cracks and widening them into tunnels and caves until the weak parts crumble and all that’s left are these little rock islands.”
The way he says it, I can see it perfectly, like it’s happening right in front of us. And it is, really. Just so slowly you can’t see it–the same way grief can do to a person over time, wear you down until you disappear.”

“The heart is beautiful, and fragile, and safe inside its bottle, like the old notes that supposedly traveled over distance and time, through storms and lulls, to finally find a shore. And then to be found.”

Heart-Squeezing Romance:The yearning I felt for Colton and Quinn to get together and JUST KISS ALREADY was pretty overwhelming. Jessi Kirby is GOOD.

Book Theme Song:

Unpack Your Heart by Phillip Phillips

This is actually quoted in the book, and it’s perfect!

Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence
And unpack your heart

The Final Word: 

This is my first Jessi Kirby book, and I’m glad to say that I enjoyed it a lot. While I didn’t love LOVE it, the author’s gorgeous writing, commitment to the structure and characters, and all-around beautiful moments and romance definitely made me a fan. I will be picking up Kirby’s first two books as soon as I can!

THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART is available in bookstores now. Are you interested in reading it? Have you read Jessi Kirby’s other books, In Honor and Golden? How much do you value perfectly written romance? Does the ending of a book matter as much to you as it does to me? Hit the comments and let me know!

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One response to ““Unpack Your Heart” Review: Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

  1. I am definitely interested in reading this one. I am coming to learn just how much of a mood reader that I am, and this is most definitely one that depends on my mood. But it is on the list, and I plan to read it soon!

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