Sunday, February 7, 2021

(Late to the) Blog Tour: How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian

 Once again, I'm catching up with another (nearly missed) #BlogTourTuesday stop. This one is for How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian. 

The story focuses on Izzy. Since her father was tragically killed while deployed, she and her mom and brother have moved often and been trying to find someplace to call home. At their newest stop, Izzy loves her school. However, even though she finds friends and a boyfriend, she's doing this with a secret. She's on scholarship, and she doesn't have the privilege that the other students do. Her family has also been selected for a Habitat for Humanity build. While exciting, Izzy doesn't want to be the face of this project, especially because she doesn't want her classmates to find out who she really is. She especially doesn't want her boyfriend to know as she's never had a relationship like this. This book explores the complexities of one girl's story. She is in some ways living multiple lives and cannot live her full truth in any of them. Like many young adult reads, I think about when I was the target audience. This is definitely a story I would have been drawn to. I would have liked the love story overlayed with the difficulties of Izzy trying to find herself.

As for bonus content, here are some other people talking about this book. . . 

MOST ANTICIPATED / BEST OF LISTS:

Children’s Book Council: “Hot Off the Press: February 2020”

Latinos in Publishing: “January 2020 Latinx Releases”

Kirkus Reviews: “11 Early Books We Love”

Kirkus Reviews: “16 Books We Can’t Wait For in 2020”


“A Pretty In Pink story about grief, family, class, and first love.”

Bustle


“This is not a polemic about racism but an exploration of what identity means… The force of Padian’s storytelling, the pain of watching Izzy’s worlds collide, moved me to tears more than once.”

Portland Press Herald


“Padian creates a world that the reader can easily dive into. Anyone who’s ever been a self-conscious teen will see themselves in Izzy.”

Book Riot


“A balance of vivid description and witty, discerning storytelling [gives] a refreshing zeal to Izzy’s first-person narrative… Padian’s How to Build a Heart encourages us to embrace our authentic selves by letting go, not only of secrets, but of the desire to hide parts of ourselves in hopes that others will accept us.”

Cleaver Magazine


“A sensitively rendered story, but also a fun read, brisk and engaging… Padian’s book demonstrates the importance of home as a source of support and identity for teens.”

BookPage


“Complex, heartrending, and beautifully explored, How to Build a Heart is a deeply poignant read that is not only deep enough to move you, but wonderfully engaging and quirky.”

The Young Folks


How to Build A Heart is, at its core, a contemporary romance. But it also strives to be more than that. It’s a story of family, friendship, and the bonds that get us through… The novel is simple, sweet, and bursting with hope.”

The Fandom


“A potent coming-of-age story about the courage often required for pulling together multiple threads of a life to create an authentic self.”

BookBrowse


“Padian’s latest book delivers an enjoyable story about how Izzy eventually finds her place in her ever-changing world… This book effectively captured the chaos that can sometimes come with being a young adult.”

The Daily Free Press (Boston University Student Paper)


“Padian shows again and again that a story is always more complicated and more ordinary than it seems.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“Padian masterfully portrays the internal struggles Izzy goes through in her Catholic faith… An absolutely enthralling depiction of family and self-discovery.”

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)


“Padian creates a compelling world with relatable characters and deals with serious issues without feeling heavy-handed…An excellent classroom or book discussion starter. Hand this to readers who are ready to tackle these issues with a lighter touch.”

School Library Journal


“Padian takes a familiar theme—a girl hiding her background from others—and makes it fresh with her protagonist, Izzy Crawford… The characters around her are well-defined and support Izzy and the plot well. Throughout the novel, Izzy's strength, candor, and humanity shine through.”

Booklist

(Late to the) Blog Tour: Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices by Masuma Ahuja

First off, this was supposed to be a #BlogTourTuesday post, and then life happened. So, here I am running after the blog tour train that's left the station trying to jump on at the last minute.

ANYWAY.

Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices by Masuma Ahuja is a glimpse into the experiences of girls around the world. Their stories are told in their own words through diary entries and question prompts. The stories are then overlaid with information about the realities of the countries where they live. Each girl is navigating some unique challenges individually and in the community/country around her. My only critique (in a good way) was I wanted more! I was so drawn into each girl's story that I wanted to know what was next for her, how she was doing, and just a general deeper dive into her life. That said, I think this book is also intentionally set up this way to be a conversation starter. The stories of each girl can show other girls similarities around the world while also showing what it's like to live in different countries through the experiences of a real-life person. I also dug that these stories include pictures. Again, you really get drawn into the worlds of these worlds in just a few pages. As a kid, this would have absolutely been a book I was captivated by, and I think it's great that girls today have this collection.

Given this is a book tour, I have some special "treats" to share. Here are a few excerpts from the book!





Book Reviews - Things to Think About

And here's another round! Three of the four of these had some great inspiration and reflection opportunities. So, let's go!

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman is a book I heard about ages (like a legit decade y'all) ago, and I finally have read it! Yay, me? Anyway. The book was first published in the sixties, and almost sixty years later, it is still incredibly relevant. Told in a variety of correspondence methods, this is the story of Slyvia, a young teacher assigned to a metro high school. She very quickly comes to see the realities of this school, including the stories and challenges of her students, the lack of resources to do her work, and the frustrations of administrative demands. Throughout, she tries to do all she can to help her students, while also encountering a variety of barriers through them, her colleagues and the administration. This was such a unique storytelling technique, and it worked so well to really help me see Sylvia's struggles. I was so drawn in, and I was rooting for Sylvia and her students even though the obstacles were many. This is a book whose subject matter is timeless in its frustration, but also in its inspiration. It's one I could see myself revisiting as it's just so well-crafted and has so many messages that are so important to continue to hear about education.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig was such a beautiful, wonderful book. After being totally captivated by The Midnight Library, I needed more of this author in my life. This is a memoir focused on the realities and struggles of mental health told in an honest and authentic way. At times, the story is hard, but those are the parts that are so, so very important to hear and know. Even through the pain, this is above all else a story of hope. As the title says, this is about finding joy and perseverance even in the darkness. This was just a book that had me (predictably) in my feels, but also gave me so much to reflect on and sit with, too. It's another one I can see myself revisiting, and I'm also ready for more Matt Haig reads in my life.

I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers was a re-read in preparation for the two authors coming to an event at work. Y'all, this book is a must-read. I am so appreciative of how these two women are able to speak and explain politics/life. They are able to work through difficult topics with such intentionality and grace. Given I was re-reading, I took time to mark my favorite passages (and there were many), and these are words I will revisit. Also, if you're not yet listening to Pantsuit Politics, it's absolutely a podcast you need in your life. 

With so many of these quartets, you need to cue the "One of these things is not the other" music, and this last one is obvioulsy that!

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade was just a delight of a romance read focused on April and Marcus. Marcus Caster-Rupp is the star of Gods of the Gates (which is akin to Game of Thrones in its hype and fandom). While the show has made him a star, Marcus also isn't so much a fan of how the story has been adapted for TV from books. Wanting to re-write the stories, he finds connection and community in the fan fiction community. April is a member of that community. She finds particular connection with one particular user, and unbeknownst to her, that user is actually Marcus! April also loves cosplay, and she goes viral for one of her costumes. That post catches the eye of the real-life Marcus, and they end up on a date. Marcus learns that April is actually his fanfic friend, but he decides not to tell her. From there, the real-life and online relationships take different twists and turns given what Marcus knows (and April doesn't). I really liked the fanfic angle of this one. It's a dedicated community, and it was fun to see how this story was built around the world they live in and fandom they cultivate!

Onto the next ones!