How to Build a House, by Dana Reinhardt (2008)

Genre: Contemporary
Interest Level: 16-19
How to Build a HouseLike so many readers, I often finish a great book and put it down reluctantly, not wanting to leave behind the wonderful characters and world the author has created. I wish this one had been longer too, but for a different reason. I wanted to know more about the construction of that house! Harper Evans is 17 years old. She knows nothing about building a house, but decides to spend a summer with Homes from the Heart, a volunteer organization that recruits teens to help build houses after disaster strikes. Harper leaves L.A. for Bailey, Tenn., to help the Wright family rebuild their home, just one of many in the community flattened by a tornado. Harper’s own home is in shambles, metaphorically speaking – her father and stepmother of nearly 12 years have announced their divorce, she and her best friend/stepsister Tess are barely speaking as a result, and she is having secret sex with her childhood pal Gabriel even when he is with another girl. No wonder she is hurt and confused about life and love. The story alternates between Here (housebuilding) and Home (Harper’s past), intertwining current events with Harper’s backstory, and creating a sense of construction and destruction, homebuilding and homewrecking. Along the way Harper discovers lessons about love, forgiveness and the meaning of friendship. Reinhardt does a good job of exploring and revealing Harper’s feelings, emotions and confusion, with some breathtaking moments (a sunset “the color of a kitten’s tongue”). I just wished she’d spent more time on the mechanics of housebuilding. VPL catalogue for a search on house building is next …
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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