Imprint: HarperTeen (November 5, 2019)
On Sale: 11/05/2019
List Price: 17.99 USD Age: 13+
ISBN 10: 0062693166
Praise for THE HOW & THE WHY
“The novel’s great strength is the emotional depth of its characters and the complexity of their relationships. A heartfelt and hopeful story about coming of age as an adoptee.” ―School Library Journal
“Hand explores adoption’s multiple dimensions with great insight and sensitivity. Inclusive and illustrative: an engaging lesson in timeless family values.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Cynthia Hand is the master of pulling at your heartstrings. The How & the Why tells both sides of an adoption story with love, compassion, and care. You’ll be reaching for your tissue box with this one — if you can stop turning pages long enough, that is.” ―Brigid Kemmerer, New York Times Bestselling Author of Letters to the Lost
“Beautifully rendered and superbly shaped. Hand has crafted an absorbing novel that focuses on family, friendship, teen pregnancy, adoption, personal choices, and serious health issues. Give this exquisite novel to readers seeking an emotionally intricate story.” ―Booklist (starred review)
A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.
Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…
Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.
But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.
Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.
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I received a copy from the publisher for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.
I’m not a big contemporary fan. I’m just going to put it out there. When it comes to YA contemporary, I need some kind of substance. Not the Hallmark love story (I actually like that in my adult contemporary fiction). THE HOW & THE WHY is not a Hallmark love story, but it will tug at your heart.
The book is written in two point of views, our main character, Cassandra, and her birth mother, S. S’s side of the story is the before. Before Cass was born and adopted into the family she’d love forever. Cass’ side is a fresh eighteen year old girl navigating college applications, potential boyfriends, and a mother’s sickness. All the while, slowly realizing that maybe she does want the beginning to the happily ever story her parents made her adoption out to be.
I’m not adopted, but I have family closely linked to it. My aunt is my mother’s older sister and she found my mom and my grandmother after, I don’t know how long she searched for them. If you put the three together, you can see they all share the same smile. I do too. I don’t know why, but it’s always seemed to be something that I actually felt proud of. I am proud that my aunt could find the extension of her, to find the courage to do it. I am proud of my grandmother for recognizing the struggle she would have had if she had kept her baby. Not to mention she probably wouldn’t have met my grandfather and therefore, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have gotten to know that internal strength is a trait with the women in my family. And, now, I’m about to cry about this.
What I truly love about this book is that it made me wonder what it was like for my aunt. It made me wonder what it was like for my grandmother. It makes me more open and loving to the hard decisions that pregnancy can result in.
There are subtle moments where you will see how S and Cass are similar. Like my family and the smile we share, the two characters share some physical attributes and some personality traits. It is amazing to see the intricate knitting of nature and nurture in this book if you look closely. It isn’t a “versus” thing, it’s an “and” thing.
I’ve read only one other book where Cynthia Hand was one of the authors and I can see where some of the humor in that book comes from. Cynthia brings to life characters that seem like everyday people. Their struggles are real, but it is not the overdramatized struggle you see in other teen contemporaries. There is no “you don’t understand” here. There is a girl who knows her background, who is trying to find her courage, and there is a support system that are willing to help her through it.
I am happy I got this book and I will definitely be reading more of Cynthia Hand (with her fellow partners in crime and her solo works).
Final Rating: 4/5
Photo Content from Cynthia Hand
Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novel THE HOW AND THE WHY (Fall 2019). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with a husband who’s addicted to typewriters, two kids, two cats, one crazy dog, and a entourage of imaginary friends.
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