Harper needs to get away from home for a while, to escape her heartbreak over her father’s divorce from her stepmother and her confusion about her relationship with Gabriel, who is not her boyfriend but is definitely more than her friend. She signs up for the Homes from the Heart Summer Program for Teens and leaves her native California behind to help build a home for a Tennessee family who lost theirs in a tornado.
Dana Reinhardt does so many things right in this book that it would take a very long time to list them all, so I’ll just hit the highlights. As always, her teen voice is spot-on: Harper sounds like a real teen, not a grown-up’s idea of how a teen sounds. Her characterizations, as always, are excellent, too; the family for whom Harper is building a house, all of the other kids who work with her to build the house, and Harper’s own family are fully realized. This is a remarkable feat, especially considering that the book comes in at only 227 pages. The most unique thing about How to Build a House, however, is its structure.
Reinhardt has named each chapter after one of the steps in building a house, and within each chapter we get glimpses of how Harper’s life was at “Home” and how things are different “Here.” Throughout the story, the step in home-building correlates with Harper’s experiences and memories. It could come across as contrived, but it doesn’t. It is, instead, just right.
I would recommend this book to just about anyone. Dana Reinhardt is one of my favorite authors for young adults today, and How to Build a House follows in the tradition of excellence she began with A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life and continued with Harmless.
Book: How to Build a House
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Original Publication Date: May 2008
Age Range: Young Adult
Source of Book: ARC sent by author
Related Posts: My Interview with Dana Reinhardt, My Review of A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, My Review of Harmless
Buy it: IndieBound – Powell’s