Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby (2015)
After her boyfriend's death, Quinn wants to find all the recipients of his donated organs. The heart recipient never gets back to her, but she's able to find out his identity. When she meets him, she doesn't anticipate falling for him - while trying to keep her secret.
When we meet Quinn, she has spent the last year mourning the death of her boyfriend, Trent. She's finished high school, but has no other plans and is just sort of floating through life. It made me sad that she was only 18 and felt her life was over. Quinn's desire to reach out to all the organ recipients was bittersweet, and even she wondered if it was bringing her closure or helping her cling to Trent's memory. I wasn't sure how I felt about her search for the heart recipient. I wanted her to respect their desire for anonymity, if that's what they truly wanted, and the fact that she's even able to discover his identity was a little crazy. When Quinn and Colton meet, it seemed a little convenient that he's a gorgeous, sweet guy and they fall for each other. I thought their kayaking dates were cute, but I kind of wish Quinn had found out about Colton's donated heart after they met - it would have felt more like fate. The fact that she had this big secret and had to pretend like she didn't know all about him already was a little off-putting.
Quinn's family was a great addition to the story. I wanted more of her spunky grandma, and I really loved the way her sister helped her move forward, even though she was going through some stuff of her own. Overall, this was a well-written, emotional story that had a few bumpy elements. 3.5 stars
The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby (2017)
After a near-fatal car crash, Liv wakes up from a coma to realize she has no memory of the last four years of her life.
I think this is my favorite Jessi Kirby book so far. I loved how real it felt. At times, I was maybe hoping for some more drama or bigger secrets and revelations, but in the end, I appreciated the story for what it was. Liv was an amazing main character. She's understandably freaked out when she realizes the accident has taken her memories of the last four years, but I actually thought she handled it pretty well. I mean, she can't remember her entire high school experience - her best friend is no longer her best friend and she doesn't know why; she doesn't remember learning how to drive; she finds her birth control pills but has no memory of having sex with her boyfriend of two years. It's kind of devastating to realize all the big AND little things she can't remember. Kirby did a great job of getting inside Liv's head; I really enjoyed watching her try to understand how the person she was at 14 became the person she is today. I thought there were some good lessons, too, about being the person we want to be, not the one others want us to be, and following our passions.
As always, Kirby's writing is simple, straightforward, and just plain good. Although the ending felt a bit rushed, following Olivia on her recovery journey (and also meeting her fantastic family) made for a truly solid read. 4.5 stars