In Honor

In Honor

by Jessi Kirby


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A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in this novel from the author of Moonglass, whose voice Sarah Dessen says “is fresh and wise, all at once.”

Hours after her brother’s military funeral, Honor opens the last letter Finn ever sent. In her grief, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously decides to go to California to fulfill it.
Honor gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen Rusty in ages, but it’s obvious he is as arrogant and stubborn as ever—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Despite Honor’s better judgment, the two set off together on a voyage from Texas to California. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn’s memory—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442416987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 05/14/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 235
Sales rank: 1,165,960
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 Years

About 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

Read an Excerpt

In Honor

  • 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.


    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.

  • 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. "


    “[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.”


    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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    In Honor 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
    PageGirl More than 1 year ago
    The Writing: I know I said this about Kirby's first novel Moonglass, but it must be stated again: She is a great writer plain and simple! Kirby can take what other's seem to bungle, and instead wrap it up with poetic conciseness that keeps the story moving, the reader fully enveloped in the moment and all the while you feel as if you are cruising along at a nice easy pace. She writes in such a way that you truly believe the characters point of view and experiences. If she is describing grief, nervousness, the scenery on the road or what it's like to see a place for the first time, you feel like this must have been how Kirby felt in her own life to write with such a sense of authentic trueness. Her word imagery pulls you into a scene that is easy to visualize complete with emotion and the necessary details to keep you turning the page. As my 60-something year old retired father said when he read one of Kirby's novel "That girl's a professional alright". Family Is Where Your Heart Is: Kirby paints a picture of the older brother every girl always wanted-Someone who was always looking out for them, but not willing to make a big deal out of it; The kind of brother that every mother imagines her son to be when she finds out that her first child will be a boy-A defender of the family. I believe this aspect appeals to most of us out there either because we've always wanted that or never really had it. I also love that Finn and Rusty had their own family bond even though they were just friends. In life you don't always get to pick your family members, but true friends can more than make up for gaps left by the unfortunate events that can happen in life. This message is woven through out the book as Rusty and Honor's odyssey unfolds revealing a closeness that surprises them both. The Crush: The crush aspect of this story makes me so awkward and nervous, I might as well have had a crush on Rusty myself. I love the fact the Honor knows him all to well, but just can't help herself from letting her thoughts get the best of her. I love Rusty's cockiness mixed with the realization that this is not the 8 year old little sister that use to follow them around BUT that he still holds onto the respect he has for his best friends little sister.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely love Jessi Kirby. Don't hesitate to read this book. It really pulls on your heart strings.. and i was waiting every day for this book to come out since her first book Moonglass. Moonglass and In Honor have both found their way into my heart. She creates words for feelings, that really can't be described. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
    Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    What an amazing book! I really adored it that I just want to read it over and over again!What I loved most about this book is the amazing plot line. Let me tell you that right from the page, my emotions were deeply invested in the characters. Ms. Kirby makes it easy for the reader to fall into the shoes and step into the world that she created. Each new chapter brings the reader closer to Honor and Rusty, with a revelations of what really happened.The characters of the book, even minor ones played a significant role in each other lives. I enjoyed that the reader is able to be a part of a large amount of growth within the characters. These character learn and grow from each other. They make stupids mistakes but live in every moment that they can.The love interest is super awesome. It's not a love triangle or a lusty love. It's a love of a friendship that grew over grief. At the end of the book, their relationship is at a new level. After all that is said and done, their understanding and love has grown.In Honor is a fresh story that delivers a new reading experience. This story is a rare occasion to follow the steps of loss, grief, and love. An awe-inspiring story, In Honor is moving.
    ilikethesebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I'll apologize in advance, because while I read this book and really enjoyed it, I read it back in January and should have written this review while it was still on my mind. But I will try my best to remember everything I liked!Road Trip books are becoming increasingly popular, and with that popularity arises the difficulty for a novel to stand out from the crowd. In Honor by Jessi Kirby definitely does. Honor's journey is not sparked from teenage rebellion, or lack of adventure, but rather from horrible loss. When her brother, Finn, dies in the military, Honor's world is destroyed. In the mist of her grief she receives a letter from her brother sent just before he passed. Honor makes it her mission to complete his final request, no matter how ridiculous and impossible it may seem. When Rusty, Finn's obnoxious best friend intercepts Honor's leave, they end up on the journey together.Since I read Moonglass last year, I have fallen in love with Jessi Kirby's writing style. It is very simplistic yet it covers deeply emotional topics and creates great reader-charachter bonds. By simplistic I mean the atmosphere she creates is very fresh and natural feeling, something that is hard to describe. In addition, I felt for all of her characters, I really cared about what was going to happen next and how the story would end up. I have this image in my mind of a beautiful beach, a beach that I've never visited - a beach that Moonglass left me with. With In Honor I am left with another image. A girl on a rock in the mountains: peace, serenity. I am sharing this because I feel that these images are able to translate how beautiful and intriguing Kirby's stories are better than my words have been. I'll admit, I don't remember everything that happened, but those two images have stayed with me since the moment I read them. That is showing something very powerful in her writing. I'd definitely recommend her works to contemporary lovers, or someone who is looking for an great, meaningful read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A heartfelt story that could have gone predictible, but has some very engaging moments that set it apart from other contemporary YAs I've read.
    JessicaMae8 More than 1 year ago
    Loved It! When I first heard of In Honor I had high hopes, there was just something about the concept that resonated with me. Than I read Kirby's debut novel, Moonglass, and was disappointed. I don't know if it was my mood that day or what, but Moonglass failed to impress me. After reading some of my giddy anticipation for In Honor faded. I shouldn't have worried. In Honor lived up to all my early expectations. I read it through in one sitting and was disappointed when the story ended. Kirby did an excellent job of creating interesting characters, sending them on an exciting road trip, and making sure there were plenty of sparks. There's also a titch of a mystery regarding what happened between the main character's brother and his best friend which does get answered. My only real complaint with the book was the ending, which I felt was bit abrupt. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and was disappointed. Guess I'll have to let my imagination take over.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
    We get started with the tragic death of Honor's brother, Finn. I found it quite interesting for the book to just start off as them being in the memorial of her brother who died while he was with the Marines in Iraq. I was kind of grateful that I didn't actually get to know Finn, or else I would have been in tears for his death. Anyways, Honor is the main protagonist in this book. After her parents death, Honor and her brother moved in with their aunt. I can see how close Honor and Finn were, and how his death strongly effected Honor. The last letter Honor got from Finn were two tickets to see famous popstar Kyra Kelly. Honor found it a job for her to actually go there, and tell Kyra about her brother. Honor decides to start her journey the next day, only leaving a note for her aunt about her sudden disappearance. Later, we get to meet Finn's old best friend, Rusty. Things start off kind of weird since it's been a long time since they last met. The next day, Honor finds Rusty drunk and blacked out, so she just decides to throw him in the back side of the car, and starts her long journey to California. I really liked how Honor and Rusty's relationship develops as friends. Finn means a lot to both of them, and I felt like both of them just needed to find that closure for themselves. Jessi Kirby really wrote a book that was cute, funny, and even emotional at times. Both characters felt so believable, and I felt like it was very easy to relate to them as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this book very much. The characters were very lovable, and funny as well. This book wasn't that sad, but it wasn't all fun either. Jessi balances the fun and seriousness very well, and I loved every moment of it. I would recommend this to all contemporary young adult readers out there. Can't wait to read more of Jessi Kirby's future books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really thought this book started out great. Unfortunately, I kept waiting for it to get happier or sexy with Honor and Rusty, but it just never did. Now, I am depressed from this book.
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    An Amazing story that had me laughing and crying all night! I picked up the book and didn't put it down till I had finished it. Made me cherish the relationship with my brother. The story is told with such detail it felt like I was in the car with them! A must read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I want to read more of this book. I love it so much.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was very good. However, it was somewhat repetitive throughout the book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    One of the most boring and cliche books I've ever read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Whats up? Im cool.