Monday, April 26, 2010

The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid. . . . Or are they? 

When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters' village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known.

MY REVIEW: This is the first book I've read by Beth Kephart and I was pleasantly surprised. With sparse lines and  a deft precision to detail which was quite lovely, the author was able to evoke strong emotions from this reader and that is the sign of a talented writer.

The main character, Georgia, the middle child watches as her popular older brother, Geoff, closes himself off inside his room, biding his time until he leaves for college in the fall. Her younger brother, Kev, is a terror on two legs. When she spots a circular on a supermarket board searching for a dozen teens who want to travel to Juarez, Mexico and help build something for a local community her curiosity begins. After researching and asking her best friend Riley to go along, Georgia asks her parents for their permission. Her dad is the more understanding of the two and he accompanies her to the initial meeting of GoodWorks. Georgia wants to go and make a difference.

What I really enjoyed about this novel was its subject matter. A normal, intelligent teen girl wants to travel to another country and help those less fortunate than herself. Though it is only for two weeks this experience will have a profound effect on Georgia's life. While in the small town of Anapra, Georgia learns not just about the local people but about who she is and what is really going on with Riley. The lessons she learns are discovered on her own in a clear and believable way. Highly recommended.

FAVORITE SECTION: "I turned and saw that Drake was watching me, his complicated goodness right there on the surface, within reach. "Her sister," he told me, "and Socorro said the name again--Esmeralda--then reached for Drake so as to be lifted higher. I felt the weight of her vanish into Drake's arms; I saw her arms go up, toward the sky. I heard her cry out again, and that's when I saw what she was seeing: a pure white cloud belted by a band of gold, a horizontal offering.

Happiness floats, I thought. It is the color of a truce. I closed my eyes and opened them, and it wasn't just the ghost of Socorro's sister up there; it was my own anxious heart set free." (page 237, ARC)

COVER COMMENT: Nice picture, especially the heart made with hands.

RATING: ++++

FOR FANS OF: Well written touching stories based on real experiences. Kephart went on a trip, brought her camera and recorded her experiences which she later had printed in a newspaper. This novel followed.

BOOK SOURCE: Traveling ARC Tours.


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