Just three days after seventeen year old Honor buries her older brother Finn, she receives the last letter he had sent her from Iraq. In it, he has given her concert tickets and a request… and Honor takes this to be a quest. Something she needs to do for him. Of course, just as she’s climbing in the car to drive all the way to California, Finn’s drunk ex-best friend Rusty shows up and passes out in the car. So he ends up coming along. The journey turns into something they both needed as part of their grief process, and it helps more than they knew to be with someone going through the same emotions.
This book had always appealed to me in some way, ever since I first heard about it. I love contemporary fiction, a bit of romance, and feeling sad is okay by me. By this stage in my life, I have lost more than a few important people in my life, and it never gets easier. I do wonder, though, if there are better ways to deal with it sometimes. Is Honor dealing with it the best way she can? I’m not really sure, as we don’t get to see her at all outside this trip. So we can only look at this trip. And given where it takes her, and what she learns and processes along the way, I think this was a good idea in her case. Rusty’s too. But I do wish she had told someone that she was doing this.
Now, the logistics of the trip itself. I have trouble believing that anyone could do as much as Honor did after being in the car as much as she was, without AC no less. I am no stranger to road trips, and have on multiple occasions driven over 6 hours round trip just to go to a specific restaurant I like. Don’t judge. But when I get back home again, you couldn’t pay me to stay up half the night drinking, and then wake me before dawn to go do something (cool as that sounded) and then be in a car all day again the next day. I wouldn’t be able to function. So that kind of took me out of the story a little….
I was able to get back into it easily though, as I enjoyed the banter between Honor and Rusty. They definitely knew how to push each other’s buttons! They weaved along the line of fun and flirty and hurt and sad. But it got super creepy when Rusty would all of a sudden look at Honor’s body and “remember that she’d grown up”. That happened more than once, and I thought it disgusting every time. And for that reason, and a couple other personality traits that were described but not actually addressed (ahem, underage alcoholic) I had trouble feeling like he is this awesome guy. At least not completely. I get that he has issues to work through, and this was more about Honor, but maybe that could be another book? I don’t know. Maybe the time has passed.
So I liked this for what it was – an in-between book to read quickly and cry a little, but I don’t think this is the first book I’d recommend to someone. I do think I’d read something by this author that she’s written since this book though if that makes any sense.
by Jessi Kirby
Simon & Schuster, 2012