Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: The Heart is Not a Size

Summary: Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid. . . . Or are they?

When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters' village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known.

Beth Kephart paints a world filled with emotion, longing, and the hot Mexican sun.-- Harper Teen

I know this is going to sound strange, but I've been procrastinating reading THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE by Beth Kephart. You see... I absolutely love Beth and I even consider her a friend. I think she is a marvelous author and I've loved the other books that I've read by her. So I admit that I was a little nervous when I picked up THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE. What if I didn't love it?

I had no need to worry because Beth does not disappoint with THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE -- I absolutely adored this book. I found that when I was reading this novel, I treasured each and every word. THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE isn't a long book, and yet, it delivers a beautiful story with a very powerful message. I really get the impression from this novel (and really every Beth Kephart novel) that she chooses each word for a specific reason and to elicit a particular feeling in the reader. She is an amazing storyteller!

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this novel so much was because I really loved the character of Georgia. I actually think I had a lot more in common with this character than I do with most teens in today's books. I realize that it has been quite awhile since I was Georgia's age, but I found myself really relating to her on quite a few levels. I was very similar to Georgia because I, too, was always the nice, responsible girl. I also experienced a lot of the pressure and anxiety that Georgia experienced (albeit, it probably was self-inflicted.)

If you've ever read a Beth Kephart book, then you know that there are just tons of beautiful passages -- she really has a unique way with words! As I read THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE, there were quite a few times where I found myself pausing and just taking in her writing; however, there was one passage in particular that really struck a chord with me:

" You grow up being told that responsibility is a good word, that you should step forward first, that you should manage; but the truth is: Too much responsibility gets you into trouble. It boxes you in, divides you into two very different, separate people. Your responsible, sold version is what everybody comments on: Georgia's reliable. Georgia will do it. Georgia always knows what she is doing. She will come through. Your private, hidden self, meanwhile, would shout a different story."

I swear Beth could have been writing this about me. I had these exact same feelings as a teenager (and sometimes I still do!) I read a lot of books, but rarely do I experience the emotion that I did while reading THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE. And that was just as it related to the character of Georgia. The entire trip to Mexico also touched my heart.

I was also deeply affected by the parts of the story about Juarez -- how could any reader not be touched by how these people live? I appreciated that Beth gave us an insider's look into a squatters village in Mexico -- she actually took a trip to Juarez and helped build a community bathroom there. I've seen pictures and news stories about the living conditions of these people, yet I think THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE brought the reality to home for me. After I finished this novel, I wanted to do something to help...something to make a difference. And I love Beth for not only helping me to have this awareness, but also for bringing this reality to the attention of today's teens.

Needless to say, I think THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE is a perfect discussion book, especially for mother-daughter book clubs. There are so many important themes in this novel which would be perfect to explore deeper with a teen (or even an intuitive tween.) And many of the topics deal with some very sensitive, yet important, situations that aren't always easy to bring up with your daughters. Some of the topics which warrant further discussion include friendship, mother/daughter relationships, family dynamics, eating disorders, poverty, anxiety, insecurity, sacrifices, gratitude, and self discovery.

THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE is a very special book to me. I can't wait to share it with Booking Daughter because it's exactly the type of book that I want her to read. There is a very real character in Georgia that I know she will love, but there is also a wonderful message about giving back and helping those who are less fortunate than us.

THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE has a Facebook fan page and there is also a website devoted to the book. Make sure you check out the site because there is a contest for an autographed copy of THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE and this beautiful fair trade necklace from Ten Thousand Villages (valued at $44.)

A huge thanks to Ms. Kephart for sharing a copy of her novel with me.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I am sorry to say that I've yet to read any of Beth's books, but I hope to read this one as part of the love fest! I feel the same way about Jacqueline Woodson...few words, huge impact. Very efficient writing!

bermudaonion said...

Your review is beautiful! I loved this book too!

DCMetroreader said...

Another YA author that I am going to have to check out.

Mystica said...

I liked your review specially the part about the village in Mexico.

Meghan said...

Fantastic review, Julie! You all are making me so eager to buy and read this book.

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

Beth Kephart said...

Julie, you just made me cry.

Georgia, Julie, is so much of me. You, then, are the beautiful (inside and out) version of me.

Thank you a million times over.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have read 2 of her books and agree there are many beautiful passages. I know what you mean though when you really like an author and there comes another book and you are afraid to read it! I have felt the same way many times! :--)

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this author so thanks for bringing her to my attention.

Anonymous said...

Oh, she's YA. no wonder. I don't read those really.

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

I think you hit on part of the reason why I love Beth's books so much. Her characters are just so much ordinary kids, ordinary people, I often do relate to them better than I do to many other YA characters.

nomadreader said...

What a wonderful, passionate review! I really enjoyed it too, and it was the first book of hers I read. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

i have heard so many great things about this book and definitely have this on my wishlist.

thanks for the wonderful review!

WinterWrite said...

What a great review! Can't wait to read this book. It sounds like a great one. I haven't read any of her books yet.

Beth F said...

I'll have to come back to read this review -- I plan to read this one next week.

Serena said...

Sounds like another good read from Beth. I really loved Nothing But Ghosts...I'll have to put this on the to-read list as well.