HOW TO BUILD A HEART by Maria Padian
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 12 - 18
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High school junior Izzy discovers that some secrets can’t stay hidden.

Isabella “Izzy” Crawford is caught in between worlds, from her interracial and interreligious family to her friendships with wealthy classmates at school and her outspoken, socially conscious best friend, Roz. Izzy describes herself as being able to pass for white like her deceased father; her Puerto Rican mother, Rita, and younger brother, Jack, cannot. New doors open for Izzy as she befriends Aubrey, the new girl in her a cappella group and sister of Hot Sam, a wealthy basketball player Roz obsesses over. As Izzy tries to figure out where she belongs, she is trapped in a whirlwind of secrets as her worlds inevitably collide. Padian (Wrecked, 2016, etc.) masterfully portrays the internal struggles Izzy goes through in her Catholic faith. While navigating the remnants of her Methodist father’s legacy and her mother’s deeply rooted Catholicism, Izzy must also explore her relationship with both sides of her family. While her mother, who “always doles out her wisdom—and warnings—in Spanish,” works on their application for a Habitat for Humanity house in an attempt to move from the mobile home park, Izzy begins to understand there is more to her deceased father’s family than she first imagined.

An absolutely enthralling depiction of family and self-discovery. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-61620-849-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2019