Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: How to Build a House, by Dana Reinhardt

How to Build a House, is the story of a girl trying to get through some rough times, told as she volunteers to build a house for a family who has lost everything in a tornado.

Harper is from California. She doesn’t remember her mother, who died when she was an infant, but her father remarried and his new wife brought along two daughters of her own. With the addition of a little brother, Harper has a real family. Her stepsister, Tess, and Harper share everything just like sisters.

When all that falls apart because her Dad and his wife split up, Harper loses not only her “mom” but she loses Tess. Neither one of the girls seem to know how to be sisters any more.  Tess is very angry with Harper’s dad. Harper can’t understand what happened, and her father isn’t talking much.

To complicate matters even more, Harper’s best childhood friend, Gabriel, becomes more than a friend. Harper is understandably confused and hurt when Gabriel willingly has sex with her, but then acts as if nothing has changed.

Harper decides to join a group of youth in Tennessee for the summer to help build this house. Soon she finds herself with kids from all over the country living in a plain hotel, and working hard in the Tennessee summer heat to build something.

Harper’s relationships are what make this story special. She divides her narration into “Home” and “Here” sections, so the reader slowly learns bits about what happened in the past, and what caused her to want to spend her summer here. Every one of the kids in Tennessee has different personalities, and there is conflict, rule-breaking, and of course some romance. Harper learns a lot, and it is special to see her growth during this experience.

I think teens will enjoy this book – it may need to be pushed a little, though. I don’t think the cover or the description is particularly appealing. It is much more than a story about building a house for the disadvantaged. These characters are real teens with real problems and Reinhardt does a great job of telling their story.

I’ve posted about the Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award previously. This book is one of the 2012 nominated titles, and that’s why I read it.

Published by Wendy Lamb Books, 2008
Copy obtained from the library
227 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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1 comment:

  1. I've been intrigued by this book but haven't purchased it for my library yet. Maybe I'll check it out from the Public Library first.


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