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Grade 8 Up—In this novel best suited for contemplative teen readers, narrator Georgia, who is sturdy and studious, and Riley, wispy and artistic, have been friends since kindergarten in their Main Line Pennsylvania town. Winter break of junior year, Georgia learns of a summer service trip to Juarez, Mexico, talks her parents into letting her go, and pulls Riley into her plan. The latter two-thirds of the tale take place on the Good Works trip itself, as the characters slip past a boundary between the before and the after, highlighting the transformative power of such a mission. Riley has been whittling herself smaller and smaller to break the "average" mold her pampered and Botoxed mother has cast around her; and when Georgia notices that she is eating nothing while doing hard physical labor under a blazing sun, she breaks the code of silence and their friendship when she uses the A-word: anorexia. Riley turns away from Georgia, and Georgia turns to snapping photos of the people and landscape of their project: to construct a community bathroom for Anapra, a tin-roofed shanty town for border factory-assembly workers and their families. Georgia also watches and coaxes out of silence Drake, a boy as introspective as she, while she waits to see if Riley will come back to their friendship and acknowledge her eating disorder. Lyrically and philosophically written, the story is more message than compelling story-driven fiction. It's not likely to hook or hold most readers.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Drawn by a flyer promising “two weeks that will change your life,” Pennsylvania high-school student Georgia convinces her best friend, Riley, to join her on a trip to Juarez, Mexico, where chaperoned teens will build community projects. Georgia is hoping that the newness of the experience will help her shed both the secret panic attacks she has been experiencing as well as her sense of herself as a “freakishly well-behaved” and predictable decision-maker. As expected, the trip does widen the teens’ cultural awareness (“Privilege doesn’t make you smarter. It doesn’t gift you decency”), but it also forces Georgia and Riley to confront previously unspoken personal troubles. Kephart is an award-winning poet as well as a novelist, and her prose, filled with memorable, original imagery, has the subtlety and spare, rhythmic feel of verse, a sense that is extended by the characters’ own enthusiasm for poetry. There is a sameness in the voices, but Kephart writes with great respect for her characters, and thoughtful teens will recognize their own intelligence, capability, talents, confusion, and big hearts in these young people. Grades 8-11. --Gillian EngbergSee all Editorial Reviews
I have very mixed feelings on this book. In some ways, I loved it. In others, I just really didn't like it at all. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Anna LaGrois
I found the book to be a bit ho-hum. Getting to know Georgia and Riley, best friends, was heartwarming, but there wasn't much in the way of adventure. Read morePublished 20 months ago by P. Bell
Beth Kephart has once again created a novel that moves you. This book held a special place in my heart because of all the trips I took in high school to places that needed help -... Read morePublished on August 8, 2011 by Kristen M. Harvey
The Heart Is Not A Size by Beth Kephart is essentially a snapshot in time. Georgia, the main character, is a junior in high school. Read morePublished on July 9, 2010 by April
This is a wonderful book for adults both young and old. The story is riveting, the setting is intriguing, the language is splendid. Read morePublished on June 16, 2010 by Sy Montgomery
On Christmas break during junior year of high school, Georgia spots a flyer on a grocery store corkboard. The ad promises "two weeks that will transform your life. Read morePublished on June 9, 2010 by Teen Reads
By all outward appearances, Georgia has everything going for her - she's a good student, she's responsible and she has her share of friends. Read morePublished on April 25, 2010 by BermudaOnion
Beth Kephart fans are not going to be happy with this review. Don't get me wrong, the book is terrific, but it isn't scheduled for release until the end of March 2010. Read morePublished on April 10, 2010 by TeensReadToo
Once again, Beth Kephart has delivered a young-adult novel that sings to adult readers of all ages. Gorgeously written and impeccably rooted in place and time, THE HEART IS NOT A... Read morePublished on April 4, 2010 by Anna Lefler