LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Source: ARC from the publisher
In Honor was a really good summer read that was not only fun and entertaining, but also heartfelt and able to deal with difficult real-life issues in a very honest and straight-forward way. I think my favorite thing about this book was that it was so refreshingly realistic and the characters were very easy to relate to.
Honor has just graduated from high school-- and gone through her brother's funeral after finding out that he was killed in combat while fighting in the Middle East. All of a sudden, Honor's world just seems to be crashing down around her. All her plans for the future become blurry in the midst of her pain and grief at losing the guy she looked up to more than anyone else in the world. Honor's parents both died when she was young and her older brother Finn was her hero. To make things even more difficult, she receives a late letter from Finn 3 days after she learns of his death-- and in that letter are the last words she'll ever hear from him. With her future stretching out before her, Honor must learn to find peace after tragedy and move on-- because after all, life will move on with or without her.
Now after reading a premise like that, you might be thinking to yourself, well this doesn't sound like it's going to be a very fun or uplifting kind of read-- in fact, it sort of sounds down-right depressing! But Jessi was able to take a very painful topic and turn it into a learning experience for her main character, while also giving hope to the story and even some humor.
Honor as the main character was so easy to relate to, mainly because we really get to see inside her head and experience everything that she's going through. I definitely liked how reflective the story was-- I think in some books you want to have lots of action, but in this book it was just nice to read from a more emotional and reflective point of view. The reader can see how Honor deals with the loss of her brother and how she's able to come to peace about it-- as much as a person really can in that kind of situation-- while gaining the strength and maturity to move forward. I thought that that was very inspiring.
I also loved how we get to know Finn though Honor's memories of him. By the end of this book, you feel like you know the brother and friend that Finn was, and his character was very multi-dimensional despite him not ever being totally present in the story. At the end, we find out about the sacrifice he made out of love for his little sister, and you just can't help but love this guy who did everything he could to protect Honor.
Rusty-- Finn's best friend who follows Honor on her road-trip adventure that was brought on by Finn's last letter-- was a more difficult character to like. He definitely had his own personal demons-- drinking heavily and frequently being one of them-- that left me feeling a bit uneasy about him. He and Honor develop a kind of love-hate relationship, and even though I can sort of understand Honor's eventual attraction to him, a lot of his behavior just really bothered me. Rusty, despite drinking too much and giving Honor a hard time, is still her only close connection to her brother. With Rusty, she has someone who can truly empathize with her and mourn the loss of someone she loved and depended on.
But guess what! There is NO insta-love in this book, and even by the end of the story, things are left on a much more realistic note than a lot of other YA books. So even though Rusty wasn't my favorite guy ever, I think that Honor's relationship with him was much more true-to-life than other ones I've read about. I think you could agree that, even though it wasn't perfect, it wasn't ridiculously unrealistic either.
Just a warning, there is A LOT of drinking in this book. So if you don't really like that kind of thing in YA books, then it might bother you here. There's even a "tequila night" thrown in towards the end, where I could literally feel Honor's hang-over afterwards. The author doesn't glorify drinking or anything, but she doesn't skirt around it either because-- well, duh, a lot of teens drink! So she keeps it real, even the ugly bits like hang-overs.
The end of the story was totally unexpected and I couldn't even believe what was happening at first. But since life is unexpected and I think the author was trying to stay as true to life as possible, it made sense to have such a crazy ending. Also, it ends on a hopeful note that life does go on even after something horrible has happened, and you will learn to laugh again and be happy even if you feel like you never could again.
In Honor was an awesome coming-of-age kind of story. In taking the road-trip with Rusty, Honor gains some closure about the loss of her brother, and even though she'll never be the same carefree, innocent girl ever again, she gains maturity and strength from the experience. The whole road-trip aspect of this book made this the perfect summer read for me, and I would definitely recommend it for your summer reading lists as well!
I love this book cover. Like, LOVE IT. First of all, I've always wanted to go on a road trip through the deserts and "bad lands" out west, and this cover just screams "ROAD TRIP!" to me :) Not only that, but this cover matches the story perfectly, and as you read you'll see many aspects of the book portrayed on the cover. And I LOVE Honor's boots, I want them! When you turn the book over, there is a picture of Rusty-- my only wish is that their heads weren't cut off at the chin so we could see what they look like! I get why some covers do this but I always want to know what the rest of the character looks like! I also love the font used for the titles and author's name, so overall this cover is a definitely love for me :)