First Lines: The snap of the first shot breaks open the afternoon. I squeeze my eyes shut and wait for the second one, ears strained against the silence. Seven rifles have come together as one, in salute of Finn.
I have read and loved many a Jessi Kirby book. This had been on my to-read list for a while, and I thought it was time to bring Kirby back into my life.
When Honor loses her brother Finn in Iraq, the world seems to stop. None of it feels real. On the day they bury her brother, Honor gets a late letter from Finn. In it are two tickets to a Kyra Kelly concert, Honor’s favorite singer and Finn’s celebrity crush, and a joke to tell Kyra all about Finn. Seeing this as a last request, Honor wants to hit the road immediately. It’s then she sees Rusty, Finn’s best friend, in the driveway. She hasn’t seen him since Finn and Rusty had a falling-out, but Rusty looks the same as ever. Maybe not the ideal road trip partner, but the two of them will make it work. Along the way, they each find small and sometimes surprising ways to honor Finn’s memory. But when the trip comes to an end, will they be able to deal with the consequences?
I tell you what, this story could have easily been this depressing, maudlin mess. Honor is desperately trying to hold on to every fragment of Finn she can, and Rusty’s not in any better shape. But it found a way to be hopeful and maybe even inspirational. And that’s not an easy thing to do.
Honor and Rusty are an interesting mix of characters. Honor is driven, determined, and knew what she wanted out of life before Finn died. Rusty is more of a wrong-side-of-the-tracks guy. He tends to try to drink his problems away, which bothers Honor to no end. I really didn’t think they were going to work together at all, but their connection with Finn really does bring them together.
The plot itself is really simple: Honor and Rusty are trying to get from Texas to California for this concert, in the off-chance they can actually meet Kyra and tell her about Finn. But it’s also this simplicity that makes this story kind of powerful. Honor takes the time to sit back and reflect on what she has, what she’s lost, and what she wants.
But it’s also kind of boring at times because it is such a simple story. They spend a lot of time on the road, they get into little pockets of trouble, they meet interesting characters. It gets a bit repetitive.
What was amusing to me was how many ties I saw to pop culture in this that I can’t really tell if they were intentional or not. One I’m pretty sure was intentional was Kyra Kelly being described exactly like Taylor Swift. When you read the description of her, it’s Taylor’s early career (before she went pop) to a T.
But my favorite reference (one that is so coincidental that I can’t imagine it wasn’t intentional) were all the similarities between this book and Supernatural. We have a ’67 black Chevy Impala, a road trip (where one of the characters does a substantial amount of drinking, like Dean), dead parents, a protective older brother, and a rule that only classic rock can be played in the car. (You may be happy to know “Wayward Son” makes an appearance in this book.) I mean seriously, how could this not be a twist on Supernatural? There’s even a character named Sam! I describe this as what would happen is Sam was a girl and something bad happened to Dean. (*snickers a little* If you’re a fan of the show, you know why I find this funny.)
See the similarities between this picture and the cover?? This is totally a Supernatural fanfic. Minus the actual supernatural elements.