In Honor
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In Honor

4.2 20
by Jessi Kirby
     
 

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A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in what Sarah Ockler calls a “beautiful, engaging journey with heart, humor, and just a pinch of Texas sass.”

Three days after learning of her brother Finn’s death, Honor receives his last letter from Iraq. Devastated, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously sets…  See more details below

Overview

A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in what Sarah Ockler calls a “beautiful, engaging journey with heart, humor, and just a pinch of Texas sass.”

Three days after learning of her brother Finn’s death, Honor receives his last letter from Iraq. Devastated, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously sets off to California to fulfill it. At the last minute, she’s joined by Rusty, Finn’s former best friend.

Rusty is the last person Honor wants to be with—he’s cocky and obnoxious, just like Honor remembers, and she hasn’t forgiven him for turning his back on Finn when he enlisted. But as they cover the dusty miles together in Finn’s beloved 1967 Chevy Impala, long-held resentments begin to fade, and Honor and Rusty struggle to come to terms with the loss they share.

As their memories of Finn merge to create a new portrait, Honor’s eyes are opened to a side of her brother she never knew—a side that shows her the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8–10—When Honor returns home from her brother's military funeral, she finds a letter Finn had mailed weeks before being killed by a roadside bomb. In the envelope is a belated high school graduation present, two tickets to singer Kyra Kelley's farewell concert. Poised to attend college orientation, Honor impulsively lies to her guardian and decides to head out in Finn's 1967 Impala to the California concert as a last tribute to her brother. To her surprise, Finn's brooding ex-best friend, Rusty, comes along as a self-appointed chaperone and car mechanic. Unresolved issues about Finn's enlistment in the Marines after he and Rusty had both received coveted college football scholarships, and Rusty's absence at the funeral, hang in the air as they head west. Car trouble, campground dust-ups, and some tequila parties have Honor wallowing in self-pity, unaware of Rusty's own pain. Some plot contrivances link Honor with the possibility of meeting Kyra Kelley and a tidy ending looms until Rusty tangles with local police, the Impala gets impounded, and Honor is left alone on the sidewalk on the day of the concert. This climax is late in coming but the page-turner results in Honor's ability to come to grips with newfound truths. Flirtatious tension between the teens and a road-trip theme provide plenty of girl appeal, especially for fans of Simone Elkeles's "Perfect Chemistry" series (Walker, 2008) or Elizabeth Scott's Between Here and Forever (S & S, 2011).—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Publishers Weekly
Just before heading to college, Honor is faced with attending the military funeral of her brother, Finn, who died fighting in Iraq. Overwhelmed and emotionally derailed by Finn's death, Honor decides to fulfill what turns out to be her brother's last wish—that she attend pop star Kyra Kelly's final concert halfway across the country in Los Angeles. As Honor is about to take off, her brother's best friend, the heavy-drinking Rusty, hops in Finn's old car to come along for the ride. Though Kirby's premise is well-tread, her storytelling is fresh and moving, and Rusty is swoon-worthy as Honor's unlikely romantic hero, all the more genuine for his faults. Moments of beauty, including a sunrise scuba dive and a desert thunderstorm, are poignantly tinged by Rusty and Honor's loss. Kirby doesn't promise a certain future for Rusty and Honor's relationship, but readers will root for the grieving girl with a Texas accent in cowboy boots and a dress as she heads into the unknown. A sweet and soulful summer romance that is worth the trip. Ages 14–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Writers House. (May)
Lauren Barnholdt
“An amazing novel about first kisses, last goodbyes, and what it means to finally let go. I absolutely loved it.”
From the Publisher
“A beautiful, engaging journey with heart, humor, and just a pinch of Texas sass. Hands down my favorite contemporary of the year.”
—Sarah Ockler, bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, and Bittersweet

"The story of Honor and Rusty’s road trip offers moments of hilarity, potential romance, and spiritual awareness as the two travel across the desert to commemorate Finn’s life...Readers will find themselves rooting for the two to see past their differences and get together. "
VOYA

“[Honor and Rusty’s] enviable roadtrip portrays the universe as resonant with beauty and responsive to personal grief, which is just what many teen readers need as they cope with the losses in their lives.“—BCCB

“A sweet and soulful summer romance that is worth the trip.”
Publishers Weekly

“Fans of road-trip novels with plenty of heart . . . will love this journey, from unpredictable start to finish.”
Booklist

VOYA - Mandy R. Simon
When seventeen-year-old Honor's brother, Finn, dies in Iraq, her dreams of starting college in the fall seem trivial and unimportant. After finally reading a letter from Finn that he had written before his death, she finds two tickets to a Kyra Kelley concert, and a request to "tell her all about your handsome older brother." Honor decides to take Finn's old Impala from Texas to California, on a road trip to the concert. Finn's best friend, Rusty, comes along, providing Honor with comic relief, frustration, and eventually a love interest. The road trip proves cathartic to both Rusty and Honor, and the adventure allows both of them to mourn, celebrate, and share parts of Finn's life with one another, even in his absence. The story of Honor and Rusty's road trip offers moments of hilarity, potential romance, and spiritual awareness as the two travel across the desert to commemorate Finn's life. Honor moves through various stages of grief as she grapples with the death of her brother and her inability to say good-bye. The characters are entertaining, and their budding relationship is believable. Readers will find themselves rooting for the two to see past their differences and get together. This title is recommended for middle and high school readers of light romance, and those who appreciate accompanying characters on an emotional journey with interesting stops along the way. Reviewer: Mandy R. Simon
Kirkus Reviews
A road trip brings two collateral victims of the war in Iraq together. Honor, an orphan, is shocked to receive a letter from her soldier brother right after his funeral. Opening it, she finds tickets to a favorite musician's farewell concert and decides it is imperative that she attend. Disreputable and usually drunk, her brother's former best friend, Rusty, jumps in the car to go along. The road trip that ensues takes the two from Texas to California and from antagonism to intimacy. Rusty's version of how Finn decided to join the Marines--a decision that led to his death in Iraq--is quite different from what Honor believes is true. That, along with Rusty's memories of their shared past, makes Honor realize that she may have been wrong about a number of things. Some parts of the plot are unsatisfyingly glib. Honor's Aunt Gina, her guardian, has an unbelievably accommodating parenting style. The debit card Honor borrowed from her brother is just too convenient. And Honor dismisses supposed best friend Lilah all too easily. But bad-boy Rusty is appealing, as are the folks they meet along the way, and Rusty and Honor's romantic banter is satisfying. A somewhat fluffy read about non-fluffy issues. (Fiction. 12-16)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442416994
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
05/08/2012
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
401,465
Lexile:
850L (what's this?)
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


1

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. With the second crack, I open my eyes and focus on the youngest of the riflemen, who stands on the end. His gloved hands had trembled as he’d lifted his rifle, but now they are steady, firm. A third shot. Rifles are brought back to the shoulders of their bearers, and the general bends, fingers brushing the grass, and picks up three of the gleaming spent shells. I stand there, stiff as the troopers, while my aunt cries softly beside me.

The bugler steps forward and licks his lips before he lifts his trumpet. It occurs to me that I’ve never actually heard taps played in real life. As the first notes emerge, I try to be present in the moment, try to press into my mind what this moment means. My brother is dead. And this . . . this song means it’s real. He’s playing for Finn.

The bugler is dressed like the rest of the soldiers, but his face is softer somehow, gentler. Maybe because he holds an instrument instead of a gun. He keeps his eyes open as he plays, and he looks at the flag-draped casket the entire time, playing for my brother. And I want to tell him about Finn because, even though I can feel the emotion behind his song, I’m sure he never knew him.

Aunt Gina squeezes my hand so hard it hurts while she tries to muffle her sobs. I press my lips together, gulp back my own. One of us should. Finn would be proud of that. He always told me to look strong, even if I didn’t feel it, because sometimes that’s all you can do.

The troopers let the last notes of the song drift off and settle into the distance before they step forward for the flag. They lift it gingerly off the casket and fold it once, twice, before the general tucks the shells within the waves of red and white. Then eleven more folds, until all that’s left is a rigid triangle of white stars on blue. The young trooper, probably my brother’s age, hands it to the general for inspection.

The general is a somber man in his forties, dark hair peppered with gray. He takes the flag and steps forward, looking from my aunt to me. But his gaze settles on me when he walks across the damp grass, and now my knees weaken. I don’t know if Gina has arranged this or if it’s because I’m listed as Finn’s only next of kin, but the general stops in front of me. His eyes speak of sorrow, and as he stands there, I wonder how many times he’s had to do this in his career.

He recites words I hear but don’t really listen to: “On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandment of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to Country and Corps.”

As he talks, I am grateful that my parents never had to stand here and bury their son, but I mourn the fact a million times over that I’m here to do it alone. As soon as the flag leaves the general’s hands and is in my own, I clutch it to my chest like it’s Finn himself, and now I can’t look strong. I didn’t think I had it in me to cry more than I have in the last two weeks, but the tears flow immediately, and when they do, the general seems to step out from behind his uniform to grieve with me. We stand there, me locked within the circle of his brass and patches, and he means it as a comfort, but it’s all rigid corners and stiff fabric.

I whisper “thank you,” then pull back, and he squeezes my shoulders before letting go. Aunt Gina steps forward and puts her arms around me, and the general and his troopers fall away. Faces of people—my friends and Finn’s, his teachers, coaches, classmates, our whole town—stream by, puffy-eyed and heartbroken, offering their condolences. When it’s Lilah’s turn, she doesn’t say anything, but she hugs me hard and that says everything. More people come by us to pay their respects, and we stand there for what feels like an eternity, nodding, thanking them for coming, until they’ve all gone.

Aunt Gina excuses herself to talk with the funeral director, and I have a moment to myself. I don’t want to look at the casket waiting to be lowered into the ground next to our parents, so I walk over to our bench, the one Finn and I would sit on when we came to visit, and I sit down, still hugging the flag to my chest. And that’s when I see a silhouette I recognize, standing off some distance—one I didn’t realize was missing from the stream of faces until now.

Rusty stands there looking like a grown man. He’s in a proper suit and tie, his hair combed back, and he would look perfectly respectable if not for the paper-wrapped bottle dangling from his hand. I wonder who told him. I hadn’t even thought of calling him, but then, I wouldn’t have known how to get ahold of him anyway. He and Finn hadn’t spoken since Finn enlisted, and it wasn’t like we were friends anymore.

Still.

He’d come, and that meant something. Even if he watched from a distance. I want to walk over and tell him that him being there would’ve meant more to Finn than anyone else. That whatever differences they’d had were long forgotten. But when I get up, he raises the bottle to his lips for a long pull, then turns and walks away. Just like he did over a year ago.

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What People are saying about this

Lauren Barnholdt
“An amazing novel about first kisses, last goodbyes, and what it means to finally let go. I absolutely loved it.”
From the Publisher
“A beautiful, engaging journey with heart, humor, and just a pinch of Texas sass. Hands down my favorite contemporary of the year.”

—Sarah Ockler, bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer, Fixing Delilah, and Bittersweet

"The story of Honor and Rusty’s road trip offers moments of hilarity, potential romance, and spiritual awareness as the two travel across the desert to commemorate Finn’s life...Readers will find themselves rooting for the two to see past their differences and get together. "

VOYA

“[Honor and Rusty’s] enviable roadtrip portrays the universe as resonant with beauty and responsive to personal grief, which is just what many teen readers need as they cope with the losses in their lives.“—BCCB

“A sweet and soulful summer romance that is worth the trip.”

Publishers Weekly

“Fans of road-trip novels with plenty of heart . . . will love this journey, from unpredictable start to finish.”

Booklist

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Meet the Author

Jessi Kirby is the author of Moonglass, which was an ABA New Voices selection in 2011; In Honor; and Golden. When she’s not writing, she works as a middle school librarian. She lives with her husband and two children in Crystal Cove, California. Visit her at JessiKirby.com.

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