How to Build a House: Book summary and reviews of How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

How to Build a House

By Dana Reinhardt

How to Build a House
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  • Published in USA  May 2008,
    240 pages.
    Age range: Young Adult


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About this book

Book Summary

Harper's Dad is getting a divorce from her beloved stepmother, Jane. Even worse, Harper has lost her stepsister, Tess; the divorce divides them. Harper decides to escape by joining a volunteer program to build a house for a family in Tennessee who lost their home in a tornado. Not that she knows a thing about construction.

Soon she’s living in a funky motel and working long days in blazing heat with a group of kids from all over the country. At the site, she works alongside Teddy, the son of the family for whom they are building the house. Their partnership turns into a summer romance, complete with power tools. Learning to trust and love Teddy isn’t easy for Harper, but it’s the first step toward finding her way back home.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This meticulously crafted book illustrates how both homes and relationships can be resurrected through hard work, hope and teamwork. Ages 12-up." - Publishers Weekly.

"The author juxtaposes the metaphorical (Harper learns to rebuild her own "house") with the concrete in a well-paced first-person narrative spiced with summer flings and teen romance. Readers will find Harper absolutely charming, even at her most sardonic moments. 13 & up)" - Kirkus Reviews.

"Reinhardt raises provocative questions about the nature of commitment between human beings and the earth--and one another." - Shelf Awareness.

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carol
Adult Review
The young adult I had intended to read this book was not available so I read it myself - a 50 year old mother of two sons ages 21 and 23. I really enjoyed this book and the characters seemed like real kids dealing with real issues although it was somewhat predictable. I would recommend this to mature teenagers and adults who are dealing with divorce or family separation issues.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Lauren
how to build a house
I found this book to be a really good book. It really touched me and made me feel like I was in her world. It was well written. It is also one of those books that you can read over and over again and never get tired of it. It would probably appeal to teen from the age 14 to 17. I really enjoyed the book.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Rebecca
how to build a house
How To Build a House is a great book. Though I haven't gone through everything the main character, Harper, has I still found myself relating to her in so many aspects of of life. I'm 15 and I can definitely relate to this book. Just the way Harper regards everything around her and how she is hesitant to let people see who she really is makes me feel like I'm not alone, that there is always someone everyone can relate to. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a place to belong.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Kyra (age 14)
Interesting, but not exceptional
The book had an interesting and easy to follow plot with many unique characters. I would only recommend this book to someone in High School (or older) because the mature themes would not be relevant or appropriate for younger readers. I am a few years younger then the main character who is a senior in high school, but the book still has relevance to me. At first the book is a bit confusing because it takes place in both the past and present, but in the end the effect is great, giving you a puzzle to solve about the main character and her life. The book includes some romance which I enjoyed. The only reason I did not rate it a 5 is because it seemed like a common teen novel with nothing in particular setting it apart. That said, it is still a good book to read; I enjoyed it and would recommend it to my friends.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Caroline
Suprisingly Great
How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt is a surprisingly good read. What first starts out as an account of a pretentious teenager who runs away from her problems to help the earth evolves into a very familiar, yet not overdone, story of summer love. The main character Harper Evans warms her way into the readers’ hearts with her insecurities and idiosyncrasies. Although she has a non-conventional family she is very predictable in her actions. We see repeatedly throughout the novel her struggle to deal with her family’s imperfections. Yet, in contrast to the Wright family, for whom she is building a house, Harper’s clichéd problems seem insignificant. This story allows the reader to feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves, and that although as individuals we may seem insignificant when we join together we can do a lot change.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Sandra/Madison
How to Build a House
I gave this book to my 12 year old granddaughter, Madison, to read and review..the following is what she had, to say: "I really enjoyed reading this book. I am a child of divorced parents, and totally related to the main character. Reading this book reminded me of all of the feelings that I had, ....and that I still have when it comes to divorce. I especially liked the fact that I really got to know the people in the book and that it was easy to read. Most of all, it made me think about forgiving and forgetting. It really stressed family and communication. I think that no matter what kind of family you come from, you can enjoy this book. I think that every age group can read this book. And, everyone might learn some things while reading this book."

...9 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Dana Reinhardt Author Biography

Photo: Chelsea Hadley

In her own words...

There's nothing like the first time something wonderful happens to you, like, for example, when you sit down to write your first novel and it actually gets published.
I guess there's nothing quite like the first time something just awful happens to you either. Those are moments you aren't likely to forget.

So by way of introducing myself to you, let me share with you a list of my firsts:

My first love was a boy named Matthew in my pre-school class. He was very funny looking with a huge head of unruly curls, crooked teeth and rather prominent nostrils, but I loved him nonetheless. My best friend married us underneath a tree in the play yard and we used rubber bands as our wedding rings. Years later, when I arrived at college 3,000 ...

... Full Biography
Link to Dana Reinhardt's Website

Name Pronunciation
Dana Reinhardt: day-na rine-hart (first syllable rhymes with mine)

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