I really enjoyed Wrecked, the author's previous book, so when I saw this on the shelf at the library, I had to have it.
This was a very different story, but I enjoyed it. The characters are very real and the issues and problems they face felt authentic and fresh. I particularly liked the way the main character, Izzy, curates her life at school and with her boyfriend so they don't see the truth about her poverty.
At the same time, I also appreciated the way Izzy's wild friend from the trailer across the way is wholly unapologetic about who she is and where she comes from. The contrast between the two makes for an interesting and volatile friendship dynamic.
Izzy's family also feels very real with the struggles to survive and thrive at the forefront of the story. The contrast between her mother and brother at home and her dead father's extended family in the south makes for another interesting contrast.
The relationship between Izzy and her new boyfriend grows organically and the way she pulls together the various groups of people she cares about into a supportive community is something we can all learn from. The backdrop of Habitat for Humanity and what goes into building these houses for those that need them most is particularly relevant. Especially given the housing crisis where I live right now.
I did feel like the boyfriend was perhaps a little too good to be true, but Izzy points this out herself. No one can possibly be that perfect. But maybe she just hasn't known him long enough to see his flaws. Or isn't looking for them..
But overall, I enjoyed this. I read the whole thing in a single afternoon which is generally a good sign that I like something.
But don't just listen to me. here's the blurb:
One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.
All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.
How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.