Review: How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt


Title: How to Build a House
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Pub. Date: 2008
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Love, Family, Divorce, Tornadoes, Rebuilding, Volunteering
Pages: 227
Plot (from book jacket):

“Building a house takes time and hard work. But a home can be destoyed in one terrible moment – as Harper discovers when her dad and beloved stepmother get a divorce. Even worse, the divorce seperates Harper from her stepsister, Tess.

It’s time to escape. Harper joins a volunteer program to build a house for a family in Tennesse who have lost their home in a tornado – not that she knows the first thing about doing construction. Soon Harper is living in a funky motel and working long days with kids from all over the country. She works alongside Teddy, the son of the family for whom the house is being built. Their partnership promises to turn into a summer romance, complete with power tools. For Harper, learning to trust and love Teddy isn’t easy, but it could be the first step toward finding her way back home.”

How to Build a House was a wonderful read, full of symbolism, life lessons, and happy endings. It honestly, despite some heavy issues, was a feel good book. The main character, Harper, is going through some pretty serious things at home (a divorce, loss of her stepsister/best friend, boy confusion), but after a summer of volunteer work far from home – she learns what a home – and what a house – really mean.

One of my favorite parts of this novel was that the story alternated between “home” and “here”. I loved reading the “home” parts when the reader got to see what made Harper into the person she currently is and why she is halfway across the country volunteering. I felt like I really got to know Harper in a relatively short time (as the book was only a little over 200 pages long).

I really liked the characters in How to Build a House. They were very realistic in their dialogue and interactions – Reinhardt didn’t gloss over the unpleasant side of life.

Sometimes I got a bit annoyed with Harper. She has some quirks that would have driven me completely insane if she were a real person, like her obsession with correct grammar and rules. In ways though, this was acceptable because it made Harper more realistic, even though she was annoying.

The romance between Harper and Teddy was well written. I really liked how Teddy allowed Harper to grow and heal – and in ways Harper did the same for him.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing style: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50 (A)

I definitely recommend this book! It is a great story with great characters. Not necessarily the best book I’ve ever read, but definitely worth recommending to a friend!

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