I love a good forbidden romance story, and Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby is a very unique one of those! I picked this book up on a whim as the cover drew me in. At first it looks like a typical contemporary and the title just seems like a lovey-dovey romance - particularly with the cartoon heart -, but then you notice the background has actual, anatomical hearts and you start to wonder hmm, is this actually what it seems? It's not. And it is. But it's so much more.
Things We Know By Heart is a contemporary romance which the story of Quinn, a girl who lost her boyfriend in an accident and had his organs donated. Quinn has tracked down the recipients of his organs and received letters from everyone... except the person who got his heart; so she goes on a bit of a quest to find them, however things go further than she planned.
The heart has been donated to a 19 year old boy, Colton, who lives in a nearby town to Quinn. She just wants to look at him. To see him. To know that her boyfriend's heart is there, beating... Then, unexpectedly, they meet, and feelings ensue. But Colton doesn't know about the connection between them, and Quinn doesn't know how to tell him. The whole book I was just begging her to let him know that they had her boyfriends heart, but I understood why she didn't. She was scared he would think she didn't actually like him.
Quinn keeps this relationship/friendship/whatever-you-want-to-call-it-ship going and has to fight with herself in deciding what is right - after all, he didn't respond to her letter. He didn't want contact with relations of the donor. How could she tell him she broke from official channels and tracked him down? Not without risking what they had.
From what I recall, the romance in this novel was wonderful. It felt real. It wasn't toxic (if you exclude the fact Quinn was slightly stalker-ish!) it was just nice. It was the sort of relationship you would feel comfortable knowing the most ignorant, naive young girl was reading about.
I can't describe how much of a hidden little gem this book is. It's so underrated. If you are a fan of Jennifer Niven, Estelle Maskame and the like you will love this, as will anyone who is a fan of a good contemporary romance, particularly when it deals with a serious subject. I know Jessi has written other books but this is the first one I have read but I am certain it won't be the last. She is a wonderful writer and a beautiful story teller.
This was a five star read for me and I am so glad I found it!