When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters' village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known.
Finding out about Beth Kephart's books has been a wonderful surprise for me. There has been a stereotype about Young Adult being nothing more than vampire lore and Gossip Girl fluff that doesn't do anything for teens who read the genre. However, Kephart's books break that stereotype as they encourage thinking and leave the reader pondering over what they read long after they have finished the book. Every book I've read of hers has left me feeling that way, something even adult fiction doesn't always do.
This book introduces us to two girls, Georgia and Riley, who are best friends in high school. Their lives are about to change when they sign up to a service trip in Juarez, Mexico. I felt as if I could connect with both girls. It brought back memories of high school. Kephart is always good with making the characters act like sensible realistic teenagers. They aren't too mature nor too juvenile for their age, and therefore come out believable. I could not stand Riley's mother. She was just...wow. I can't even describe but it made me very sad that she had to go through all that. It's no wonder she ended up resorting to the actions she chose.
The sections on Juarez were very moving. I never have had an opportunity to go on a mission trip or perform service projects aboard but I am in full support of helping those in need. It's sad reading about how even just one sheet of toilet paper can disrupt a whole town's water supply. This book does a great job of showing how lucky we are and how we tend to take even the most basic items and actions for granted.
Although I enjoyed the book very much, I personally preferred some of her other works such as Nothing But Ghosts. I felt that book really captured my heart and pulled me into the story. This book, while being written lovely, felt like it lacked something. I can't quite put my finger on it but I just felt like there was an element missing. It might have to do with the length of the story. Perhaps if the characters had more time to develop their personalities so I could understand them more. Other than this, as I said I did enjoy the book. Kephart has a way of writing beautiful books which capture the mind and soul of the reader. Honestly, if not for being published by a YA publisher and having a slant towards a younger audience, this book is really more literary fiction. If you haven't read any of her books, now would be a good time to start.
The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart is published by HarperTeen (2010)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour