Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

Georgia and Riley are best friends and they have been best friends all of their lives, but each girl is protecting their own secrets. They each have their own struggles they are facing and while Georgia is becoming more and more aware of what haunts Riley, she feels paralyzed to help her.

Georgia sees a notice of a group going to Juarez, Mexico and decides she wants to go and for Riley to go with her. The girls head off on this trip, but things don't go as smoothly as expected. Each girl will be forced to confront what ails them in this in a land much different than their own.

When I first realized this was going to be a book about Juarez, I expected a certain kind of read. But that's a mistake with Beth Kephart, who delivers only the most exceptional work and stories framed only as they are important to her characters. I didn't get a story that ripped my heart out hopelessly over a devastated area of the world, but rather a deeply human story that never reduced Juarez and the people who live there into something that can be fit inside a box. Kephart illustrates this beautifully when Georgia begins researching Juarez on the internet, she quickly comes to the conclusion it can't easily be put in a box. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this.

I loved the characters I was introduced to in this book. I felt for both Georgia and Riley. I understood the feeling of having a friendship that means so much on the rocks, and the hope to make a difference in the world. One of the things I love so much about Beth's books are the sympathetically drawn characters, never perfect but never condemned. Love without sentimentality. Romance whispering in the shadows. Hope that has its foundation deep within.

The Heart is Not a Size is about so many things, it's about friendship, it's about self-worth, it's about helping people, it's about the secrets we keep and the ones we shouldn't, it's about knowing who we are, it's about the healing nature of art.

Again, there's no poverty porn here. Just a beautiful story about some girls that go to a hurting area of the world and find healing where they might least expect it. It's beautifully written and achingly human. When I finished reading The Heart is Not a Size, I felt I had been treated to the very best of YA lit today, I felt moved, nostalgic, and hopeful.

Rating: 5/5
Source of Book: ARC received from publisher
Publisher: HarperTeen


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