Published by Algonquin Young Readers on January 28, 2020
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.
To Izzy, the most important thing to her in the entire world is her family. After losing her dad a marine who died in Iraq six years ago she does whatever she can to help while still trying to carve out a life of her own. She may love them, but sadly the life they currently lead she is embarrassed by. She feels super guilty for feeling that way but that doesn’t change the fact she avoids having people drop her off at home after her chorus practices at the ritzy private school where she has a scholarship. She has kept her life “school life” and “home life” separate for as long as she can remember. That includes her very best friend Roz who has a nightmare of home life.
The worlds get infinitely more troublesome to juggle after her family is selected to have a house built by habitat for humanity. This complicates things because the area they are building the house is near where her school friends reside and they want to do a big PR blitz about building the house which would advertise her in her mind as “the poor kid.”
I enjoyed this book very much. Not only did I get to read a wonderful novel about a young girl discovering not only more about her family but about herself. I also learned a ton about Habitat for Humanity. Which I consider now a shame that before I thought all they did was build houses. There is so much more to it than that! Let me know what you think of the book if you decide to read it!