Things We Know by Heart

Things We Know by Heart

by Jessi Kirby


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In this unforgettable novel, Quinn Sullivan falls for the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart. Printz Award winner John Corey Whaley calls it “not just a love story, but one with a ferocious pulse.”

After Quinn’s boyfriend, Trent, dies in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the fragments of her now-unrecognizable life. But whoever received Trent’s heart has chosen to remain silent. The essence of a person, Quinn has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then in a way, she will still have a piece of him.

Risking everything to get closure once and for all, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas, whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into something 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 the time Quinn spends with Colton makes her feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, though, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost . . . and all that remains at stake.

Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, this unique and emotional story about an unexpected bond between two strangers will leave no heart untouched.

Editorial Reviews

John Corey Whaley

Above all else, Things We Know By Heart explores the possibility of finding human connection through tragic loss. Couple that with Kirby’s gift for detail and writing relatable characters and you get a not just a love story, but one with a ferocious pulse.

Sarah Ockler

This is hands down Jessi Kirby’s best book to date. It’s stunning and breathtaking, at turns heartbreaking and healing.

[A] sweet romance that grows organically.


Kirby’s writing is lush and emotional…[A] satisfying romance. Like Ockler’s similarly themed and similarly enjoyable Twenty Boy Summer, this brings all the poignancy and sentiment that a genre fan could wish.

Publishers Weekly

High school senior Quinn Sullivan's late boyfriend, Trent, was an organ donor. Via a program that allows donors' loved ones to connect with organ recipients, Quinn gets in touch with (and hears back from) all of them, except for Colton Thomas, who received Trent's heart. Although it is against the rules, Quinn tracks down Colton to get a look at him, and the two end up spending a memorable day together. Soon Quinn and Colton are diving headfirst into new romance, and as she falls for him, the truth of why they met in the first place (which she has kept secret from him) looms like a storm cloud. Medical hook aside, Kirby's (Golden) story is, at its core, a sweet, budding romance, set against the backdrop of Quinn's loving family. Questions of whether Trent's heart still beats for her within Colton's body and whether the circumstances that spark a romance matter linger throughout Kirby's story of letting go and moving forward. Ages 14–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Leigh Feldman Literary. (Apr.)

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Kirby’s writing is lush and emotional…[A] satisfying romance. Like Ockler’s similarly themed and similarly enjoyable Twenty Boy Summer, this brings all the poignancy and sentiment that a genre fan could wish.

School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—Junior Quinn Sullivan finds it hard to forget the night that her life changed in an instant when her boyfriend, Trent, was killed in a car accident. Healthy and only 17, his organs were donated to five different people. After 282 days and several written letters, Quinn meets the recipients of Trent's organs—all but one of them. Who received Trent's heart and why didn't that person come forward? Quinn needs to know and begins combing websites looking for clues. She eventually finds the receiver, Colton Thomas, and sets out to meet him in person. The love story that follows will hook readers—especially those who enjoyed John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012). The author has created believable and likable characters who will remind readers to seize the moment and live each day to the fullest. Each chapter is introduced by a fact, quote, or statistic about the heart. The writing is easy to follow yet rhythmic and honest. The one romantic scene is dealt with delicately; sex happens off the page. Kirby brings attention to the importance of organ donation without sounding preachy. VERDICT This memorable romance will ring true with teens, and librarians won't be able to keep it on the shelf.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Kirkus Reviews

Trent died in a car accident 400 days ago, leaving Quinn, his girlfriend, with crushing, unremitting grief that has derailed her life.Trent's organs were donated, and Quinn believes that if she could just make contact with the person who received his heart, it might, somehow, help her deal with the pain. So she tracks Colton down, discovering a charming 18-year-old surfer and kayaker who is just beginning to get his life back together after years of illness. She falls for him—and he for her—in a big way. It's not what she had planned, but when he presents her with a sunflower, the same type of blossom that Trent kicked off their relationship with, she's hooked. Their connection is based on lies: He doesn't reveal that he's had a heart transplant, and she doesn't tell him about her connection either. Kindly advice from her older sister, who is recovering from her own recently ended relationship, and from other members of her gentle, loving family (who, surprisingly, have allowed her to virtually wallow in grief for so long), and Colton's tender, genial demeanor help Quinn rediscover happiness. Predictable and a little syrupy, this effort is ultimately sustained by well-rounded characters and the romantic tension of unrevealed secrets. Just the thing for a day or two at the beach. (Romance. 11-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062299444
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/21/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 131,307
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

Customer Reviews