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How to Build a Heart

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One young womans 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 Izzys moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the 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.  


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One young womans 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 Izzys moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the 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.  

30 review for How to Build a Heart

  1. 4 out of 5

    ♡ ᴅ ʀ ᴇ ᴀ ᴍ ♡

    ❥ 4 / 5 stars [ e-ARC received from NetGalley ] When I first saw the cover and its title, I did not have any ideas what the story would be about. I thought it might be a typical young adult novel focusing on teenage love but actually, the story itself was much more than that. It had that part, of course. But that was not the main idea of the story that the author wanted to portray to readers. Family and friends are. How to Build a Heart follows 16-year-old Isabella Crawford, known as Izzy. After ❥ 4 / 5 stars [ e-ARC received from NetGalley ] When I first saw the cover and its title, I did not have any ideas what the story would be about. I thought it might be a typical young adult novel focusing on teenage love but actually, the story itself was much more than that. It had that part, of course. But that was not the main idea of the story that the author wanted to portray to readers. Family and friends are. How to Build a Heart follows 16-year-old Isabella Crawford, known as Izzy. After her father had died in Iraq six years ago, Izzy, her mother and her little brother had to move their houses several times until this time when they came to Virginia. Her family finally had been selected by Habitat for Humanity to have a real house which meant they didn’t need to move to any places again but certainly, it came with conditions... However, that was not the only story that happened in the book. The other story started when Roz, Izzy’s best friend, had a crush on Sam Shackelton, aka Hot Sam. It might not seem important or relate to Izzy’s life but not so long after, it was. On the day the St. Veronica’s a cappella group, the school’s a cappella group that Izzy was one of the members, held up an audition to find new members, Audrey Shackelton, Sam’s sister, appeared to be one of the auditionees who eventually got a spot to be a new member of VC. And after that day, the friendship between Izzy and Audrey was gradually developing which meant she had a chance to be closer to Sam. But the problem was.... How would she tell Roz about that? In summary, I really had a good time reading this book and would like to recommend it to other readers who love young adult novels. Even though Izzy’s life isn’t similar to my life, I can easily relate to her and learnt many things from her life. I think others will more or less enjoy this one as I do. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for providing this e-ARC to me in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    My friends at Algonquin Books told me about How to Build a Heart about a year ago, and I have been highly anticipating it ever since. You see, like many of us, as a sixteen-year-old I felt lost. My family had moved the year before, one of many moves. I am drawn to stories like this because they are deeply relatable, which makes them comforting, even healing at times. I found those things in the beauty of Maria Padians storytelling. Izzys father passed away six years ago, and ever since, her My friends at Algonquin Books told me about How to Build a Heart about a year ago, and I have been highly anticipating it ever since. You see, like many of us, as a sixteen-year-old I felt lost. My family had moved the year before, one of many moves. I am drawn to stories like this because they are deeply relatable, which makes them comforting, even healing at times. I found those things in the beauty of Maria Padian’s storytelling. Izzy’s father passed away six years ago, and ever since, her family has moved from town to town, but never close enough to her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. This time the family lands in Virginia. Here Izzy finds some peace. She likes her new school, and her family is selected by Habitat for Humanity to receive a new house. As soon as Izzy feels at home, secrets come out in the open. How to Build a Heart covers heavy and important topics like racism, abuse, and mental health. It’s a timely story with so much goodness in it, too. I’m keeping all the secrets… a secret. If you’ve ever felt like an outsider for any reason, there is much to relate to in Izzy’s story. How to Build a Heart is poignant, comforting, and inspiring with a lovable main character and an overall feel-good vibe. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mandi1082

    How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian deals with a lot of issues. Friendship, families, mother daughter relationships, sibling relationships, loss of a parent and many more. This story really touched my heart and brought a lot of different emotions out of me. It made me happy and it made me sad. I loved the writing and I was so into the story from the beginning. It also has some trigger warnings abuse, racism, bullying and depression. I want to thank Netgalley and Algonquin Young readers for How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian deals with a lot of issues. Friendship, families, mother daughter relationships, sibling relationships, loss of a parent and many more. This story really touched my heart and brought a lot of different emotions out of me. It made me happy and it made me sad. I loved the writing and I was so into the story from the beginning. It also has some trigger warnings abuse, racism, bullying and depression. I want to thank Netgalley and Algonquin Young readers for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    chloe yeung ♡

    review to come! i loved this so much.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gayathri

    Read the full review at Elgee Writes My thoughts I was glad that romance was not the main focus of How to Build a Heart, even though it was a romance book. It is a family drama/reunion story, and I loved it as much. I liked the older females in the book and Izzys relationship with her newfound cousin. I didnt like the main friendship in How to Build a Heart so much that I ended up not liking both Izzy and Roz. Izzy doesnt tell Roz anything and made it a point to keep Roz away from her life. And Read the full review at Elgee Writes My thoughts I was glad that romance was not the main focus of How to Build a Heart, even though it was a romance book. It is a family drama/reunion story, and I loved it as much. I liked the older females in the book and Izzy’s relationship with her newfound cousin. I didn’t like the main friendship in How to Build a Heart so much that I ended up not liking both Izzy and Roz. Izzy doesnt tell Roz anything and made it a point to keep Roz away from her life. And Roz in other hand was always mean to Izzy and literally threw a stone at her over a boy. Whoa! And they got over their fight so easily? Well, I didn’t buy that one at all. Despite not loving the characters, I loved the writing style which was compelling and fast flowing. Things that worked for me The writing was perfect and I didn’t put the book down even once. How to Build a Heart deals with difficult topics like poverty, racism, and grief and did a great job at it. I love a book with a good family reunion and How to Build a Heart has one! Things that didn’t work for me Izzy and Roz were both difficult to like right from the beginning. And it got only tougher. I found it difficult to adore Izzy and Sam, as Izzy had nothing in common with Sam. Bottom-line How to Build a Heart is a coming of age tale of a Latin American girl that discusses economic inequity, racism, friendship and of course love. I will definitely look out for more from the author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This YA novel is well written and will appeal to young teens and older "teens at heart" who worry about fitting in, falling in love and finding (and keeping) a stable home. In this story, Izzy Campbell's life is one huge tragic upheaval, constantly on the move from one place to the other after her father is killed.in Iraq. Her family finally gets to settle down in one place, thanks to My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This YA novel is well written and will appeal to young teens and older "teens at heart" who worry about fitting in, falling in love and finding (and keeping) a stable home. In this story, Izzy Campbell's life is one huge tragic upheaval, constantly on the move from one place to the other after her father is killed.in Iraq. Her family finally gets to settle down in one place, thanks to Habitat for Humanity, and Izzy's hopes of establishing a life with friends and growing roots now has a chance. But she soon faces difficult choices involving the in crowd at school and how she wants to be perceived by her peers. Izzy's friend, Roz, another troubled teen, really likes Sam, the hot rich boy in town. But Izzy and Sam can't seem to help the growing attraction between them: oh oh, the dreaded teenage triangle! You will find many of the usual YA tropes here, and there could have been more dialogue and character building, but this still made for an entertaining read. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars. When youre getting pulled in a million different directions, how can you decide the right path? Finding your own way, finding who you truly are can be difficult, especially for a teenager. Izzy tries to be a dutiful daughter, a good sister, a loyal friend, but she wants so much more. Her familys life has been affected since her Marine father died 6 years ago, and shes tired of moving into increasingly smaller and more depressing places. But things are finally starting to fall into place. 4.5 stars. When you’re getting pulled in a million different directions, how can you decide the right path? Finding your own way, finding who you truly are can be difficult, especially for a teenager. Izzy tries to be a dutiful daughter, a good sister, a loyal friend, but she wants so much more. Her family’s life has been affected since her Marine father died 6 years ago, and she’s tired of moving into increasingly smaller and more depressing places. But things are finally starting to fall into place. She’s a member of the popular a capella singing group at her school, and her family has been selected to get a house through Habitat for Humanity. And when she becomes friends with the group’s newest recruit, Aubrey, it comes with a side benefit: the girl’s handsome brother, a star athlete at another high school. After a while though, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the pieces of her life together. She doesn’t want her friends—or Aubrey’s brother—to know her family is poor and that she's on scholarship, she doesn’t want her best friend to know she’s been spending time with someone she also has a crush on, and she wants to understand why her father’s family never contacts them. When things come to a head, Izzy must find her own way and become the person she’s meant to be. Along the way she’ll find allies in unlikely places and anger and jealousy in others. But she’ll have to act fast before everything falls apart. I really enjoyed How to Build a Heart . I found it so engaging and well-written. It’s so nice to read a YA book that isn’t entirely full of angst or seriously depressing situations, yet there was still a lot of emotion in the story. Maria Padian is a terrific writer. She had me hooked on this story from the first page, and I read it in just a matter of a few hours. I’ve been looking forward to this since winning the book in a giveaway on Bookstagram. Thanks so much to Algonquin Young Readers for making it available! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html. Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  8. 5 out of 5

    sandeep

    Thank you, NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers, for sending me an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review! :)

  9. 4 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋliaˎˊ˗

    goddd i'm so excited to get to this received an arc by netgalley in exchange for an honest review

  10. 4 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    ***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of HOW TO BUILD A HEART by Maria Padian in exchange for my honest review.*** Izzy Crawford feels like an outsider. As a scholarship student at a private school her friends dont know she lives in a trailer park or that her family is building a Habitat for Humanity house, a place to finally call home. Izzy likes the same boy her as neighbor friend Roz and she doesnt want Sam to know her family circumstances. The teen years would be so ***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of HOW TO BUILD A HEART by Maria Padian in exchange for my honest review.*** Izzy Crawford feels like an outsider. As a scholarship student at a private school her friends don’t know she lives in a trailer park or that her family is building a Habitat for Humanity house, a place to finally call home. Izzy likes the same boy her as neighbor friend Roz and she doesn’t want Sam to know her family circumstances. The teen years would be so much easier if kids realized that *everyone* feels different and out of place. Whether for income, religious, family issues, race, sexual orientation, imposter syndrome, worries about being seen as *less than* is a virtually universal experience. Izzy worries about socioeconomic class, Perfect Sam thinks if he was a better brother, his sister wouldn’t have become depressed, like many teens, they see false flaws in themselves. Maria Padian subtly illustrates this as an opportunity for Izzy’s growth. Izzy and Roz’s friendship, which opened the story, was the weakest and least believable part of HOW TO BUILD A HEART, in fact, I wondered if the book was for me due to my strong dislike for Roz. I couldn’t see why Izzy saw her friend’s stalking behavior as badass. The sympathetic issues in Roz’s life felt like added drama for the sake of throwing another issue into the mix and redeem her character. HOW TO BUILD A HEART is a feel good, yet predictable story without tension. I never worried Izzy’s story wouldn’t have a happy ending and sometimes that’s just what I need in a book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicole H.

    My overall vibe from this story was that it was a poignant tale about a mixed cultured girl learning about who her tribe was and finding a place to belong. I can see this story appealing to a wide variety of people. It was told beautifully and really hit upon key aspects of mixed cultured teens and the struggles that they go through. Their displaced feelings, for example. Izzy, the main character, was quirky and lovable and won me over in the first chapter. I'll be keeping my eye on this author. My overall vibe from this story was that it was a poignant tale about a mixed cultured girl learning about who her tribe was and finding a place to belong. I can see this story appealing to a wide variety of people. It was told beautifully and really hit upon key aspects of mixed cultured teens and the struggles that they go through. Their displaced feelings, for example. Izzy, the main character, was quirky and lovable and won me over in the first chapter. I'll be keeping my eye on this author. <3 Would I recommend this book? Definitely. Disclaimer: I recieved an ARC (advanced review copy) from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. <3

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alja Katuin

    How to build a heart is one of the best feel good books Ive read in a while. Im telling you, this is the book weve been waiting for. Its kind of stereotypical; poor girl, rich boy and lots of prejudice, but it feels so good. Its comfortable and sometimes thats exactly what you need. The characters are built up nicely, you know just enough about them and they seem very realistic. The scenes are good, the story is tied together very well and Ive enjoyed every second of this book How to build a heart is one of the best feel good books I’ve read in a while. I’m telling you, this is the book we’ve been waiting for. It’s kind of stereotypical; poor girl, rich boy and lots of prejudice, but it feels so good. It’s comfortable and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. The characters are built up nicely, you know just enough about them and they seem very realistic. The scenes are good, the story is tied together very well and I’ve enjoyed every second of this book

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jade Melody

    Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Received an arc from NetGalley for an honest review. This book was great, and a lot better than I originally was made out to believe. I thought this was one of those young adult contemporaries that could get lost among the rest but this book provided something that the others did not: Characters I care deeply about, a plot that connected all the characters and made everything interesting, the call out on racism, and the importance of family and friends. Another thing I enjoyed was Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Received an arc from NetGalley for an honest review. This book was great, and a lot better than I originally was made out to believe. I thought this was one of those young adult contemporaries that could get lost among the rest but this book provided something that the others did not: Characters I care deeply about, a plot that connected all the characters and made everything interesting, the call out on racism, and the importance of family and friends. Another thing I enjoyed was the romance. It was pure and just cute! This book also packed a punch! Of many multitudes. Like I previously mentioned, it called out the blatant racism from Isabella's Grandma, and how even from a young age Isabella knew it was wrong. Her dad ended up leaving the family because of it (not a major spoiler I promise). There was diversity, with multiple examples of integration of different languages (which was so cool and made it more real to life) and the culture brought by Isabella's mother, all so great!! I also loved the Habitat for Humanity storyline, it was unique and something I personally haven't seen done before in a young adult book. It's something I knew of already, but it's important to introduce it to younger people because it's an amazing thing. Overall, this book was great and I would very much recommend it to anyone looking for a heart-wrenching yet heart warming young adult contemporary!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kassie

    Starting this book off, my expectations immediately lowered because I found the friendship between our MC Izzy and her best friend Roz to be a little over the top. Once I found my way into more of the story though, I absolutely loved the family dynamics as well as the romance and the new friendship we find between Izzy and another character. This book wasn't perfect. There's a lot of lying in this book and I think there's also a little bit too much forgiveness towards one character. I understood Starting this book off, my expectations immediately lowered because I found the friendship between our MC Izzy and her best friend Roz to be a little over the top. Once I found my way into more of the story though, I absolutely loved the family dynamics as well as the romance and the new friendship we find between Izzy and another character. This book wasn't perfect. There's a lot of lying in this book and I think there's also a little bit too much forgiveness towards one character. I understood all of the reasoning and meaning behind the idea that this person is dragging you down and I don't feel like we got a true resolution from that. With that said, this book pulled at my heart strings in so many ways and I felt like for the most part, all of these characters felt extremely real. I loved the scenes towards the end with lots of extra characters. Trigger Warnings for this book: -abuse -gun violence -parent death (off page) -drug/alcohol abuse This may not be a complete list, but these are what stood out to me. I say definitely give this a chance. It wasn't perfect, but it was extremely good!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but I really enjoyed it! Izzy is dealing still with the grief of her father's death 6 years prior; she lives in a mobile home with her younger brother and their mom, who does everything in her power to make her children's lives better. Izzy's best friend, Roz, complains often about the rich people living not to far from their trailer park--and Izzy An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but I really enjoyed it! Izzy is dealing still with the grief of her father's death 6 years prior; she lives in a mobile home with her younger brother and their mom, who does everything in her power to make her children's lives better. Izzy's best friend, Roz, complains often about the rich people living not to far from their trailer park--and Izzy finds herself caught in both worlds as she befriends someone from that world of wealth. Izzy was easy to empathize with, and I really liked her relationship with her little brother Jack, and her mom. There are two female friendships in this novel--with Roz and Aubrey--but I will admit it felt a bit weak. I didn't love the treatment of Roz for part of the novel, and there is some girl hate that can just be summarized as "she's dating the boy I like, what a bitch" . . . which is not the greatest. Beyond that, I liked the romance--though for the life of me, I can't think of a single thing they had in common other than finding each other hot. A cute and sweet novel in some regards, I think the family aspects were the strongest. Still, I really enjoyed the novel. Blog | Twitter

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara (A Gingerly Review)

    Make sure you have some kleenex handy for this one.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Izzy attends a private Catholic school on scholarship, and she works hard to keep the fact she lives with her family in a mobile home park secret. So when her family is selected as recipients for a Habitat for Humanity home, as much as she's excited about finally being able to be in a stable home for a long period of time, she does not want to be involved in the publicity or fundraising where others may see her. Izzy is half Puerto Rican, and her father died during his military service. Since Izzy attends a private Catholic school on scholarship, and she works hard to keep the fact she lives with her family in a mobile home park secret. So when her family is selected as recipients for a Habitat for Humanity home, as much as she's excited about finally being able to be in a stable home for a long period of time, she does not want to be involved in the publicity or fundraising where others may see her. Izzy is half Puerto Rican, and her father died during his military service. Since his passing, she, her mother, and her little brother have bounced place to place. She hasn't made a lot of strong ties anywhere, though her friendship with neighbor Roz is as close to a real relationship she has. So when she and Roz begin falling for the same guy -- one who goes to the county high school, lives in McMansionville, and is in no way in either of their leagues -- it's a shock that Izzy goes all out to make a connection with him. And she does so through his little sister. This is a story about family, made and found. It's about grief and loss, as well as about what it feels like to put up a facade about the realities of your life. Izzy is strong-willed and hard-headed, and at times, she's downright unlikable. But her situation makes her exceptionally easy to empathize with and root for. As much as it doesn't always feel good to want for her to get with the boy of her dreams, it's clear early on they have a pretty powerful connection, even before readers know why it is Aubrey attends the same high school as Izzy. Readers looking for a book about growing up between cultures, about connecting with one's roots, and about economic disadvantages will love this thoughtful, heart-rendering read. Padian's prose is smooth and engaging, offering just enough depth to set the scene but not overdoing it with jewelry best left tucked away. At the heart are the relationships and characters, each of which are well-rendered, full, and complex. Add this book, too, to the list of books about the challenges of friendship, as well as friendship breakups/makeups. Personally, I kind of hated Roz because of everything that Izzy shared about her, but, as a good writer does, I was reminded that I was only getting Izzy's side of the story and Roz had so much to really appreciate and connect with, too.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    My review for this book can also be found on The Book Bratz I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, after a conversation got sparked on Twitter and we found out that we actually have a mutual connection based on the college I attend! I thought that was pretty cool, and then when I found out Maria was a YA author, I knew that I definitely wanted to read some of her work. When she sent me How To Build a Heart, I was elated, because the story sounded like My review for this book can also be found on The Book Bratz I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, after a conversation got sparked on Twitter and we found out that we actually have a mutual connection based on the college I attend! I thought that was pretty cool, and then when I found out Maria was a YA author, I knew that I definitely wanted to read some of her work. When she sent me How To Build a Heart, I was elated, because the story sounded like just the kind of YA contemporary that I really enjoyed. Thankfully, my hunch was right, so without further ado, let's get into my review: As the summary explains, Izzy is finally getting settled after her family's recent move, always bouncing from town to town with her mother and brother, still reeling after the tragic death of her father in the Marines. Izzy starts to feel like her life is really coming together -- she has a crush, some good friends, a spot in her school's super competitive a cappella group....but she manages to keep her scholarship student status a secret, and her best from the trailer park is nowhere near her preppy school friends. And then her family is chosen for Habitat for Humanity, which is a major win for them, but that also involves her community knowing about her family's struggles. The balancing act doesn't last for long, and when Izzy's lives threaten to cross over into each other, she isn't sure how she's going to handle it. And what ensues is definitely interesting, that's for sure! I really enjoyed reading this book! Maria Padian is an excellent writer, so I found myself being sucked into the story immediately. This book is almost 350 pages, and I managed to finish the entire thing in just two days, because I found myself picking it up every chance I get. I even walked around campus with this book in front of my face while I was heading to class and the library and places to pick up dinner, and it's a miracle I didn't trip and fall flat on my face. I was so just so invested in the story and I loved it! Seeing the way Izzy tried to juggle her lives and keep her paths from crossing (while having the nagging suspicion that somehow things wouldn't stay so separate for much longer) really kept me invested because I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Seriously, I read over 150 pages in one sitting because this book was just so great that I didn't want to put it down! Something that I really loved about this book was the wide variety of characters, actually. Everyone on the page was so different, and they all had their own unique little quirks and habits and ways of talking, and they just seemed so thoroughly fleshed out and they all seemed to serve a purpose on the page. It might just be the English major in me talking, but I always found it very frustrating when there were characters in a story that were very clearly thrown there just to serve a plot point, so they felt very two-dimensional. However, there's absolutely none of that in this book, because everyone feels so fleshed out and real that I could see them being people I bumped into at the supermarket or on the street somewhere. I really loved that aspect of the story! My favorite character in this book was actually Mami. Even though there were times that she was really strict and it felt like she was being really hard on Izzy, it was clear how much she loved her kids and how much she had given up for them and all the hard things she would continue to do for them. She seemed like such a wise, confident, caring woman, and I really appreciated her throughout the whole book, even at times when Izzy didn't. It's not very often that I find the mom figure in a book being one of my favorite characters (I don't actually know why that is, actually), but the fact that my favorite character in the story was someone as resilient, brave, protective, and loving as Rita was definitely a plus for me. However, the character that I had the hardest time getting along with as a reader was definitely Roz. I get that her life was supposed to be difficult and a bit messy as a way of "messing up" Izzy's perfect facade that she was trying to craft, but I feel like at times she was just really catty and downright mean. (Spoilers incoming, so skip to the next paragraph to avoid them!) I also kinda didn't love the fact that at the end of the story, Izzy and Roz just become instant friends again without actually really talking much out. What Izzy's mom said about cutting out people that drag you down and are harmful to you was something really important, and even though I agree with Mark that Roz wasn't dragging Izzy down in terms of her image or anything like that, there were times when she was a pretty mean friend to Izzy, and that all seems to get brushed under the rug. I'm not saying forgiveness isn't possible, because it absolutely is, but there are some things that need to be brought to light and thoroughly talked out before taking back someone who hurt you so badly. I don't know, that's just my own personal opinion -- but that's also who I am as a person when it comes to "cutting out" people in my life. If they're willing to work on things and talk it out, then I'll cooperate, but people that don't take any hard steps to rectify their actions aren't usually people I want to continue being super-BFFs with. But again, that's just my own personal take on it, and if you disagree, that's completely okay! Overall, I really enjoyed reading How To Build a Heart. I think it was a super heartwarming, emotional tale of moving on after loss, settling into a new life, and finding a way to bridge your past and your future in ways that you may not have thought were possible before. Maria Padian is an excellent writer, and it took no time at all for me to fall into her story. I'm super glad that I was given this ARC in exchange for an honest review, and it's safe to say that I'll definitely be reading more of her work in the future!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Licha

    Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for sending me an advanced copy of this book. I really enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down. In many ways, this was a very relatable book. Izzy is a young girl trying to find herself and fit in a place where she doesn't feel like she belongs. She hides her true self in order to be accepted by the different relationships in her life. She is estranged from her dad's side of the family, feels like her friendship with her best friend Roz must always be Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for sending me an advanced copy of this book. I really enjoyed reading this book and couldn't put it down. In many ways, this was a very relatable book. Izzy is a young girl trying to find herself and fit in a place where she doesn't feel like she belongs. She hides her true self in order to be accepted by the different relationships in her life. She is estranged from her dad's side of the family, feels like her friendship with her best friend Roz must always be hidden from her mom and her school friends, hides the fact that she lives in a mobile park, and now has to hide a budding romance with Sam, a boy Roz has a crush on. Everything is about to fall apart on her when her mom gets approved to get a house through a charity, Habitat for Humanity. Izzy was easy to like at the start of the book but as the book progressed I really began to dislike her. She is selfish, rude, inconsiderate and ashamed of where she comes from. I found her to be a disloyal friend, even up until the end of the book. She did not feel a need to apologize for falling for Sam, the boy Roz has a serious, stalking crush on. She also kept Roz separate from the girls in her school choir, ashamed of who Roz is. Despite me not liking her, Izzy felt like a real character with real reactions to the issues she felt she was facing. I feel like I have to mention this because I was approached to read this book based on having read "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter". There are two scenes within the book that really bothered me. In one, Roz's mom insults Izzy's mom by calling her a Mexican whore. Izzy's mom is not exactly offended by being called a whore, but is highly offended to be called Mexican, feeling the need to make sure Roz's mom knows she is Puerto Rican and not Mexican. No need to correct her though on being called a whore, just on being called Mexican. I wasn't sure why this needed to be in a book that in my opinion centered around minorities and that could be a positive image for many young readers. It therefore felt a little deceiving to be approached for this book because of a previous reading selection that was based on minorities. The second incident in the book that gets brought up is about Izzy's mom being referred to as black. I wasn't sure why this came across as offensive to Izzy but I felt like it should have been addressed properly. I did enjoy reading Izzy's story and hated when it came to an end. I don't think I was ready to leave some of these characters just yet and would love to see what happens to them moving forward. And great cover. I love it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    *3.5* I was provided with a digital ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishing house, Algonquin Young Readers, in exchange for an honest review. A full review of this book can be found here I have to say I quite enjoyed this book. "How to build a heart" talks about Izzy, a young Latin-American girl. Her father was in the military, and because of that she is used to moving. But now she has found some friends in Virginia, she has settled in her new school, and she also met a boy. When *3.5* I was provided with a digital ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishing house, Algonquin Young Readers, in exchange for an honest review. A full review of this book can be found here I have to say I quite enjoyed this book. "How to build a heart" talks about Izzy, a young Latin-American girl. Her father was in the military, and because of that she is used to moving. But now she has found some friends in Virginia, she has settled in her new school, and she also met a boy. When she gets the chance to settle for good, Izzy starts to think that maybe there is hope for her too. I enjoyed a lot of aspects of this book: the representation in this book was REALLY good, and I love to see how YA books deal with themes like this. I also enjoyed how the romance was not the main focus of this book. Sam, our love interest, was one of the main characters, but the focus was not on him. The story is about a teenage girl finding her place in the world, thanks to her family, her friends, her boyfriend, but most importantly herself. Sadly, I was not a fan of some things in this book: I really did not get the main friendship, for me it was... strange. I do NOT like how Izzy came to know her best friend's crush and did not telle her ANYTHING about it, and then started to hang out with him and her sister and still not telling her ANYTHING about it. Maybe it's me, but I would never keep a secret like that from a person that I consider my best friend in the world. In the end, everything went fine, also because of some traumatic events that I won't say because of spoilers, but still it hurt me a little bit to see how the two characters' friendship was sometimes just simply opportunistic. No, not for me. The romance was a bit fast, but Sam was sweet, and I loved how loyal and nice he was towards Izzy and her family. At the end he just became the sweetest teenage ever. I also get why the author left an aura of mystery about the future of their relationship, and I completely understand that. They're teenagers, life change. The book is a really quick read, if you like YA books and contemporaries in general and I'm glad I had the chance to read it in advance.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Claire Olivia

    What an absolutely amazing, beautiful, emotional book. The characters really shine in this story. Izzy is a character you really feel for. She was three-dimensional and realistic. It was a nice change having her be the more confident one and her love interest be a little shyer! And Mami is such an amazing character. Made me get emotional in some places. I would've liked to hear a little more about Aubrey's depression, and how mental health doesn't discriminate between classes. Aubrey is What an absolutely amazing, beautiful, emotional book. The characters really shine in this story. Izzy is a character you really feel for. She was three-dimensional and realistic. It was a nice change having her be the more confident one and her love interest be a little shyer! And Mami is such an amazing character. Made me get emotional in some places. I would've liked to hear a little more about Aubrey's depression, and how mental health doesn't discriminate between classes. Aubrey is definitely better off than Izzy in terms of wealth, but Izzy doesn't have depression, and I just think that would've been worthwhile to explore. Roz is such a valuable side character. Her whole plot is so sad but hopeful at the same time. Ugh, the scene near the end hurt to read. This book tackles so many big topics but does it in a sensitive and sincere way, nothing is just for shock value. Honestly, this is a book I think everybody should read because it gives a lot of insight into Izzy's life. I learned a lot about Habitat for Humanity and how important it is for so many families. And honestly, I want Izzy as a friend because she's such a kind person. The characters in this book really make it what it is! Trigger warnings abound: (view spoiler)[ domestic abuse, including one wound that's really nasty; racism; loss of a parent; depression/mental illness (hide spoiler)] *I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie (A Backwards Story)

    'You know, you fight with your mother. But your dad's the one you're really mad at.' 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. How could I be angry with my father? He can't help being dead.' 'Same reason I'm mad at mine. For not being here.' 'Yours walked out. Mine got blown up. Really not the same.' ~HOW TO BUILD A HEART HOW TO BUILD A HEART was one of the first books I picked up to read in 2020, and it touched me in ways that I wasn't anticipating. I am still thinking about it a month later, “'You know, you fight with your mother. But your dad's the one you're really mad at.' 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. How could I be angry with my father? He can't help being dead.' 'Same reason I'm mad at mine. For not being here.' 'Yours walked out. Mine got blown up. Really not the same.'” ~HOW TO BUILD A HEART HOW TO BUILD A HEART was one of the first books I picked up to read in 2020, and it touched me in ways that I wasn't anticipating. I am still thinking about it a month later, and now that it is officially out in the world, I've been foisting it on anyone who will listen. So today, my lucky readers, it's your turn! ^.~ One of the most intriguing things about this novel is its centerpiece: The main character, Izzy Crawford, and her family are chosen as recipients of a Habitat for Humanity house. I haven't read any book from this perspective before, and I loved seeing the world through Izzy's eyes. I more regularly see books where teens either volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or are forced to help as community service. Never have I seen the organization through a recipient's eyes. (I'm sure they're out there; I just personally haven't come across or read one!) On top of that, Izzy is a teenager, and appearances are important. She doesn't want her rich classmates to know just how poor she is or the details of her family's past. Her father was killed in action overseas six years ago, and ever since, her widowed mother has moved her and her now-six year old brother from place to place, working multiple jobs, and struggling to make ends meet. The family currently lives in a trailer, and the area isn't always the safest, especially when Izzy's best friend Roz is getting beat on across the street by her mother's abusive boyfriend. Becoming a Habitat for Humanity recipient would be life-changing for the family, and while her mother and brother are fully on-board, Izzy's feelings are so much more complex. On top of all that, the new house is near where Roz's crush Sam Shackelton lives. Roz has dragged Izzy out to the area on multiple occasions to creepily see what he is up to, and she would flip if she found out that Izzy would be living so close to him. Izzy also can't bring herself to tell Roz that she has now met Sam, and that she's become friends with his sister at school, and is slowly developing a crush on Sam herself -- but unlike Roz, who has only ever seen him from afar, actually knows him. There are a lot of different issues and relationships at play in HOW TO BUILD A HEART, and the book isn't always easy or breezy, but it's impossible to put down as readers let Izzy into their hearts and go through everything with her. It is a book about belonging, a book about family, a book about navigating your way both in school, at home, and in life in general. It captures that quintessential period of a teen's life where so much is changing and out of one's control, and so much growing up and happening without even realizing it, and Izzy's journey will resonate with so many teens out there. Also, this is one of those books where you need tissues, and I can't tell you why because #spoilers, but I was happy-crying like a baby towards the end because there is a scene that just punched me in all the feels in the best possible way! I am so glad I randomly picked up HOW TO BUILD A HEART off a pile of books to read, because Izzy's story is so important, and I hope this book is embraced by teachers and librarians and booksellers and shared with real teens, because it does a lot of good, and so many readers will be able to see themselves in Izzy through at least one of the many things she is dealing with and going through.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Stone

    Book: How To Build A Heart Author: Maria Padian Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for sending me an ARC. So, this book has been on my radar for about a year now. The publisher has been talking about this book with me saying that they think that I will really enjoy it. They were right. Yes, I do normally read more fantasy than anything, but I do like hard hitting contemporaries and this is just what Im looking for. Whenever Im reading a Book: How To Build A Heart Author: Maria Padian Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for sending me an ARC. So, this book has been on my radar for about a year now. The publisher has been talking about this book with me saying that they think that I will really enjoy it. They were right. Yes, I do normally read more fantasy than anything, but I do like hard hitting contemporaries and this is just what I’m looking for. Whenever I’m reading a contemporary I do expect an easier read, but I also want to get something out of it. Yes, I do like cute reads and there was a lot of cute parts here, but I want it to mean something. This book gave me that punch that I am looking for. We have a super cute romance, but we also have real issues at hand here. So this follows Izzy who is a high school girl pretty much from the wrong part of town. She attends a Catholic school where everyone seems to have everything. She keeps saying that she’s not ashamed of who she is, but she does seem to hide it. I can see a lot of people being upset by this, but she is a sixteen year old girl surrounded by rich people. Their world seems so prefect and hers doesn’t. I mean, think back to when you were sixteen. I bet you may have tried to do something similar if you were in her shoes. I really enjoyed the family element of this story. Izzy is multi-cultural. Her mother is from Puerto Rico and her dad is from the south. Not only do we have that going on, but her father was killed in the service. So now she is being raised in a single parent home. They really don’t see anything of their other family members so they are pretty much on their own. They are picked for Habit for Humanity, which is supposed to be a good thing. However, Izzy doesn’t want word to get about this. I can see a lot of people labeling Izzy as a brat about this, but just remember what we know about her character. Also think back to when you were a teenager. I just really love the strength and seeing how the characters bond throughout the book. To me, it’s the characters that really made this book. We see how they all need each other and how sometimes you really do have to let go of toxic people. I like how they always manage to find their way back to each other. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. This is going to be one of my blog’s spotlight books in January, so check it out. So, this book comes out on January 28, 2020. Youtube: https://youtu.be/fRc8rNMXMqE

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ixxati

    Finished this in one day and yupz it was an interesting read. This story focuses on family, friendship, relationship, racism, abuse, mental health and etc . I love-hate the main character, Izzy. Goshh kinda selfish duh I mean she knows her friend like that guy but she end up liking him too asdfghjkl but but feelings can't be control right? Okay okay I understand her pftt 😂 How to build a heart is out on 28 January 2020!! Don't forget to check out this book!!! Thank you Netgalley, author and Finished this in one day and yupz it was an interesting read. This story focuses on family, friendship, relationship, racism, abuse, mental health and etc . I love-hate the main character, Izzy. Goshh kinda selfish duh I mean she knows her friend like that guy but she end up liking him too asdfghjkl but but feelings can't be control right? Okay okay I understand her pftt 😂 How to build a heart is out on 28 January 2020!! Don't forget to check out this book!!! Thank you Netgalley, author and publisher for this ARC!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Yahaira

    thank you netgalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review! oh man. this was too good. it's the second book i read that includes a parent that died in ~action~ but just as interesting! so this book was focused more on family with the romance as a subplot but i really enjoyed seeing how izzy eventually found herself. i totally understand why izzy kept everything a secret but as mark said, if someone doesn't like her for "being poor" then she's better off without them. i adored every single thank you netgalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review! oh man. this was too good. it's the second book i read that includes a parent that died in ~action~ but just as interesting! so this book was focused more on family with the romance as a subplot but i really enjoyed seeing how izzy eventually found herself. i totally understand why izzy kept everything a secret but as mark said, if someone doesn't like her for "being poor" then she's better off without them. i adored every single (main) character and how willing they all were to help out. my heart truly goes out to roz, she's just a misunderstood teenager that deserves better. truly admire how hardworking izzy's mom was. she only ever wanted the best for her children and that's a truly admirable quality in a person. i cried. really pulls on your heartstrings, especially when it came to dealing with her dad's side of the family. 10/10 definitely recommend this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Rating: 4.5 Stars Izzy had always felt caught between two worlds. Biracial, but white-passing, she passed her days in her private school, and the rest of her time in her trailer park home. When Aubrey, the new transfer student, befriended Izzy, she had the opportunity to mingle among the town's wealthier citizens, but how long would Izzy be able to hide who she was from her new friends? This was a story of friendship, family, first love, identity, and grief, and Izzy was at the center of it all. Rating: 4.5 Stars Izzy had always felt caught between two worlds. Biracial, but white-passing, she passed her days in her private school, and the rest of her time in her trailer park home. When Aubrey, the new transfer student, befriended Izzy, she had the opportunity to mingle among the town's wealthier citizens, but how long would Izzy be able to hide who she was from her new friends? This was a story of friendship, family, first love, identity, and grief, and Izzy was at the center of it all. Right when she had started to settle into her new life in Virginia, her family was selected to receive a home via Habitat for Humanity, AND she fell for her best friend's crush. Obviously, both things resulted in lots of stress and complications in her life, because she was trying to hide so much from both her best friend and her crush. It was quite interesting watching Izzy attempt to navigate the aforementioned situation, however what I really enjoyed was the exploration of her identity. With the loss of her father, she was missing a very vital piece of who she was, while she was also isolated from her father's side of the family. This left her with many questions, and I was happy, when Izzy sought those answers by reconnecting with her father's kin. She learned a lot from the experience, and it brought an important part of her past into her present. All the characters in this book were stellar, and Padian did fantastic job shaping them. They were multifaceted and interesting, and real. I had a lot of love for Sam and Aubrey, but I absolutely adored Mami. This woman was a superhero. The way she sacrificed for her children, and the determination it took for her to keep going in the face of so many difficult circumstances, all on her own, was nothing short of amazing. The author took on some BIG issues in this book, but she did so in an honest and sensitive way. I appreciated her approach, and it never felt heavy handed to me. I appreciated the different sides she approached each topic from, and liked the way she wove it all into the story. Overall: A wonderful and touching story of self discovery, that was filled with lots of hope and love. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liza Wiemer

    Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC copy of this novel for review. Maria Padian captured my heart with this novel. FRTC

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Ay, Dios mio how I loved this book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Laurence

    In How to Build a Heart winning a dream home becomes a nightmare for sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford when the sponsor needs a poster family for fundraising. This beautifully written YA novel explores the themes of economic inequity, racism, and assimilation. As a scholarship student at a private school, Izzy has worked hard to fit in with her affluent classmates. Even her friends don't know that she lives in a mobile home, and since her complexion favors her Caucasian father, she can pass for In How to Build a Heart winning a dream home becomes a nightmare for sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford when the sponsor needs a poster family for fundraising. This beautifully written YA novel explores the themes of economic inequity, racism, and assimilation. As a scholarship student at a private school, Izzy has worked hard to fit in with her affluent classmates. Even her friends don't know that she lives in a mobile home, and since her complexion favors her Caucasian father, she can pass for white. Instead of learning Spanish, her mother's native tongue, Izzy takes French and speaks English at home with her little brother. Their father died a war hero, and their Puerto Rican mother has struggled to support them, often uprooting the family to follow jobs. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, the Crawfords finally have a chance to grow permanent roots in rural Virginia, but the new house must be paid for with sweat equity. If they are selected, Izzy and her family are required to help build their house, and local fundraising makes it difficult to hide her poverty from her rich friends and neighbors. Also Izzy's friendship with Roz, the troubled girl in the adjacent mobile home, doesn't fit this new life, and Roz's jealousy threatens Izzy's budding romance with a wealthy boy in her new neighborhood. Torn between conflicting loyalties and clashing identities, Izzy makes mistakes as she searches for the right path in life. In How to Build a Heart, author Maria Padian drew on her own experience of growing up in an ethnically mixed family. Her Irish American father and Latina mother spoke English at home so their children would assimilate into their white suburban community. The Spanish phrases in the book are expressions Maria's mother used at home. If anything, I wish there had been more focus on Izzy's Latina heritage and less on her nearly seamless assimilation. As someone who grew up with dual religions and often struggled to fit in, I could relate to Izzy's story. Reading a book like this one will encourage more teens to have empathy for biracial and low income peers. How to Build a Heart won't be released until January 2020, but you can preorder now. This young adult novel would be a great choice for readers ages 12-18, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is domestic violence, and a bit of underage drinking, but irresponsible behavior has consequences. Despite the tough issues, the central plot is a sweet, predictable romance, and the story leaves the reader with hope. This quiet book that slowly builds to a dramatic finale has already earned a starred review from Kirkus, and I expect it to win more awards. Reviewer's Disclosure: At my request, Algonquin Books for Young Readers sent me a galley in exchange for an honest review. The author is a friend of mine. Full review with photos on my blog: http://blog.sarahlaurence.com/2019/11...

  30. 4 out of 5

    KarenJo Custodio

    4.5 rounded to 5. Poignant and riveting, How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian is a beautiful story about self-discovery, grief, family, forgiveness, friendship, and so much more. Its emotional, its sweet, and its so real it made my heart ache, but also gave me joy. After dealing with her fathers death and constantly moving, Izzy Crawford somewhat feels at home in Virginia. She likes her new school and classmates, she has a best friend who lives next door, shes caught the attention of a popular 4.5 rounded to 5. Poignant and riveting, How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian is a beautiful story about self-discovery, grief, family, forgiveness, friendship, and so much more. It’s emotional, it’s sweet, and it’s so real it made my heart ache, but also gave me joy. After dealing with her father’s death and constantly moving, Izzy Crawford somewhat feels at home in Virginia. She likes her new school and classmates, she has a best friend who lives next door, she’s caught the attention of a popular boy, and her family has been chosen by Habitat for Humanity to build and live in a new house. But, Izzy doesn’t just let everyone in and she’s been keeping secrets from those close to her. What happens when her web of lies slowly begin to unravel and she can no longer avoid facing the truth? I enjoyed Padian’s writing style, the pacing of the story is good, and the plot, while dealing with sensitive issues, is also engaging, heartfelt, sweet, and sometimes really fun. Padian explores topics about racism, bullying, addiction, abuse, violence, and mental disorder. There are a few situations that will make your heart feel quite heavy at times and I won’t lie… I cried on some parts and had to stop reading for a bit. But, what I love most about stories like this is when they surprise you and give you more than what you’re looking for. This book hurt in more ways than I could imagine, but it’s also meaningful and filled with so much beauty, hope and love. Izzy is interesting and relatable, and I adored her. She’s not always the easiest to like, she makes mistakes, she’s incredibly stubborn at times, and she has issues and insecurities. But, Izzy is also strong-willed, smart, caring, and loves her family. I enjoyed her character development a lot and watching her discover what’s truly important in her life. The other characters are all quite lovely and I had fun getting to know them too. Sam is amazing and swoony. Aubrey and Roz has a piece of my heart and I just love Jack so much. Mark snuck up on me that I wanted more of him in the story. The parents are pretty awesome… well most of them anyway. Overall, the characters are fascinating in their own ways, complex, likeable, and realistic. With an engrossing plot filled with hope and so much heart, characters who’ll steal pieces of your heart, and a sweet romance that’ll melt your heart, Maria Padian’s How to Build a Heart is perfect for YA contemporary lovers. It’s deep and also lighthearted. It’s fun, but also tackles serious issues. It’s inspirational, uplifting, and thought-provoking. I truly enjoyed reading this beautiful masterpiece and was captivated by Padian’s storytelling until the end. Definitely recommend you add this book on your TBR and I hope you fall in love with Izzy’s story just as much as I did. I want to say thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Review can also be found on my blog Sincerely Karen Jo

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