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Summary and book reviews of How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian

How to Build a Heart

by Maria Padian

How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian X
How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian
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  • Published:
    Jan 2020, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Chapter One

"You do you realize you're a stalker right?"

One corner of Roz's mouth curls up, her version of a smile. A full-on smile is rare from Roz. Not that I'd see one now. I speak to her profile as she powers her mother's rust bucket of a car along the winding roads of McMansion Land. She's intent on her target and keeps her eyes focused forward.

"Yeah, Izzy?" she says. "So what does that make you?" Great question. And not without a little edge. Roz's comebacks are razors.

I'm not half as sharp, so I don't say what pops into my head. Mami's voice. In Spanish. She always doles out her wisdom and warnings in Spanish. Even though she knows my Spanish sucks.

"Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres."

In other words, "Tell me who you're hanging out with and I'll tell you who you are."

Which is code for, "I don't like your friends, Isabella." Which translates to, "Especially Roz Jenkins."

Which is muy inconvenient since Roz is my best friend and lives across the road from us.

...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The number of subplots and complications make How to Build a Heart simultaneously realistic and overly convoluted. Izzy's grandmother's cruel behavior years earlier explains the divisions in the family, but could be the subject of an entirely different book. Izzy discovers that the one cousin she feels a connection with has had a drug problem—again, the seeds of another story. Nevertheless, this is a potent coming-of-age story about the courage often required for pulling together multiple threads of a life to create an authentic self...continued

Full Review Members Only (438 words).

(Reviewed by Catherine M Andronik).

Media Reviews

Book Riot
Padian creates a world that the reader can easily dive into. Anyone who's ever been a self-conscious teen will see themselves in Izzy.

Booklist
Padian takes a familiar theme—a girl hiding her background from others—and makes it fresh with her protagonist, Izzy Crawford...The characters around her are well-defined and support Izzy and the plot well. Throughout the novel, Izzy's strength, candor, and humanity shine through.

School Library Journal
An excellent classroom or book discussion starter. Hand this to readers who are ready to tackle these issues with a lighter touch.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Padian masterfully portrays the internal struggles Izzy goes through in her Catholic faith...An absolutely enthralling depiction of family and self-discovery.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Habitat for Humanity

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter working on a Habitat for Humanity house In Maria Padian's How to Build a Heart, the narrator and her family are offered the opportunity to own a brand-new home thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller while they were living on a communal farm in Americus, Georgia. They understood that decent housing is probably a family's single largest expense, and that rental properties may not meet the needs of all families, especially those with multiple children. Part of the American Dream is homeownership, a dream that is usually far beyond reality for providers working for minimum wage. The Fullers envisioned a program through which prospective homeowners would work alongside volunteers, both skilled and amateur, to ...

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