The How & the Why
A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

The How & the Why Details

TitleThe How & the Why
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 5th, 2019
PublisherHarperTeen
ISBN-139780062693181
Rating
GenreContemporary, Young Adult, Young Adult Contemporary

The How & the Why Review

  • chan ☆
    January 1, 1970
    poignant & realistic YA contemporary. here for itthere's not much to say about the plot that isn't described in the blurb. this story is about cassie who is a senior in high school and going thru a lot: her mom needs a heart transplant, she has a crush on the new guy, she's fighting with her bestie, she's trying to get a scholarship to her dream college and she wants to learn more about her birth mother.this story is told in dual POVs. cassie's and her birth mom's letters to her that she poignant & realistic YA contemporary. here for itthere's not much to say about the plot that isn't described in the blurb. this story is about cassie who is a senior in high school and going thru a lot: her mom needs a heart transplant, she has a crush on the new guy, she's fighting with her bestie, she's trying to get a scholarship to her dream college and she wants to learn more about her birth mother.this story is told in dual POVs. cassie's and her birth mom's letters to her that she writes when she is pregnant.this is not a loud story. this is not another far from the tree by robin benway. it's quieter and frankly more realistic. i think this story will help A LOT of teens. and i like that there aren't a lot of cheap twists used. there are realistic coincidences and there are shitty things that happen and there are also a lot of really beautiful moments too.the only major complaint that i had was that the "twist" re: the love interest was kind of cliche/expected. and i wish that the love interest's past had been explored more. we get background on cassie's bff but not the love interest and i would have appreciated it/it would have added that extra touch of depth to the story.overall, loved this.
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  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second book I've finished today and both have made me cry. A lot. Is there a correlation between my tears and loving a book? Maybe. But not necessarily. I've definitely still cried for books I've hated, so. There's that.However. I didn't hate this book at all. I figured this would be emotional as it was about adoption, family, and also likened to FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway — another story that I'm pretty sure I remember made me cry a lot.This one is told in two timelines of a This is the second book I've finished today and both have made me cry. A lot. Is there a correlation between my tears and loving a book? Maybe. But not necessarily. I've definitely still cried for books I've hated, so. There's that.However. I didn't hate this book at all. I figured this would be emotional as it was about adoption, family, and also likened to FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway — another story that I'm pretty sure I remember made me cry a lot.This one is told in two timelines of a sort; via present day Cassandra and the letters being written by her birth mother, eighteen years before, while she was pregnant and waiting to give up her baby for adoption. There was such a richness to this story, both in the various situations where people were adopted, and also the reasons that lead to them, but also just family in general — both those of your blood and those you choose. I honestly have so little to say about this book despite loving it so much. I think mostly because I'm still a little stunned by the ending. I was loving this book, solid four, but the final chapter? I mean.. sure, maybe it's a little bit incredulous, a little bit unlikely, maybe even fantastical, but that.. oh my god, I'm just.. yeah, hello, this gets a bump for that. But honestly, ending aside, this book is so great. THE HOW & THE WHY packs a lot of punch but I think it also does it in a smart way. There's romance but it's not the focus. There's strong enduring friendships that aren't without realistic jealousies and natural speedbumps. And I love the focus on the bright, miraculous, even luminous moments in life, even amongst all the sadness or tragedy that we still experience. Sometimes things do work out. Sometimes we overcome our pasts. Sometimes we say the wrong things but are forgiven. Something we make a fool of ourselves but get something good out of it in the end. Sometimes that's just the how and the why of life.Sorry for the cheese.Read this book.4.5 stars** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **---This review can also be found at
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  • Cynthia Hand
    January 1, 1970
    Covering coming SOOOOOOOON.
  • Ari
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful.. Such an emotional ride! This book seems to have the author’s heart imprinted on each page. And honestly, I loved every aspect of this novel and every character. It's a story about family, friendship, and the need to belong in both ways; about first love and first major choices, about passions and and achievements and disappointments; it's a story about so much more.It's powerful, it's heartwarming, it's incredible and deep and still beautifully subtle in some Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful.. Such an emotional ride! This book seems to have the author’s heart imprinted on each page. And honestly, I loved every aspect of this novel and every character. It's a story about family, friendship, and the need to belong in both ways; about first love and first major choices, about passions and and achievements and disappointments; it's a story about so much more.It's powerful, it's heartwarming, it's incredible and deep and still beautifully subtle in some ways.I highly recommend it.Full review soon.
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  • Emily Nicholas | Emily The Book Nerd
    January 1, 1970
    REVIEW FOUND ON MY BLOGhttps://emilythebooknerdxo.blogspot.c...*Thank you to the FFBC and Cynthia Hand for an arc copy of the book*I had no idea what to expect going into The How & They Why and I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of my new favorite books for many reasons. Let me gush about this amazing novel. I cried, I laughed, I smiled almost the entire time reading the book. I could not put it down. It was so good that I read it in about two sittings. This book was very easy to REVIEW FOUND ON MY BLOGhttps://emilythebooknerdxo.blogspot.c...*Thank you to the FFBC and Cynthia Hand for an arc copy of the book*I had no idea what to expect going into The How & They Why and I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of my new favorite books for many reasons. Let me gush about this amazing novel. I cried, I laughed, I smiled almost the entire time reading the book. I could not put it down. It was so good that I read it in about two sittings. This book was very easy to devour. The How & The Why is all about discovering yourself and family. Everyone needs to pick up this wonderful book.The book is told in two alternating perspectives. One is the main character, Cass who was given up for adoption as a baby. The second, Cass's birth mother at the age of sixteen right before she gives Cass up for adoption. It's heartwrenching but also extremely interesting to read her birth mother's perspective. How hard it was choosing to give Cass up so she would have a better life. I cannot imagine how hard that would have been making that decision. You immediately begin to care about these characters. The book really knows how to capture your heart. I loved the closeness of Cass and her adoptive mother and father. How the author showed that blood doesn't make a family. Blood also doesn't make a parent. Throughout the whole novel, the mother is in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. This only added on to my tears. Reading the parts of her adoptive mom sick made me weep. I just felt so much for these characters.Then add on the fact that Cass is a theatre nerd and there are so many theatre and music references throughout the book... It made me extremely giddy inside. I grew up doing musicals myself and music has always been my life. I just became very connected to Cass and her friends. I could relate to them on a deep level. As in High School, I was a theatre nerd myself. There were so many moments that made me excited inside.The writing flowed amazingly. The past was intervened so seamlessly and naturally. It made for a very interesting story. I will definitely be picking up other works by Cynthia Hand because I loved this book so much. The How & The Why is easily one of my new favorite books and the best book that I have read this year. I wish the book didn't end. I wanted even more. Five stars from this book nerd!
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  • Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
    January 1, 1970
    "The point is, I hope you get it - the why of the whole thing. I hope you have a good life- a boring, no-drama, no-real-problems kind of life.Good luck, X. I wish you the best." I have such a weakness for family stories. I will without fail, pick up a book if family is a central focus, and I can say The How & the Why is a great addition to the emotional family-centric stories that I love. The story is told in 2 perspectives: 18 year old Cass as she’s getting ready for all that comes with "The point is, I hope you get it - the why of the whole thing. I hope you have a good life- a boring, no-drama, no-real-problems kind of life.Good luck, X. I wish you the best." I have such a weakness for family stories. I will without fail, pick up a book if family is a central focus, and I can say The How & the Why is a great addition to the emotional family-centric stories that I love. The story is told in 2 perspectives: 18 year old Cass as she’s getting ready for all that comes with senior year , and letters from 16 year old, ‘S’ who gave her up 18 years ago. I really liked Cass as a character. She’s honest and flawed and it’s so easy to feel for her through all of her struggles. Her friendships with Nyla and Bastian are wonderful. Seeing from her birth mother’s perspective was really nice, and woven into the story seamlessly. (S can really set a scene). My biggest complaint with the story was that I didn’t really buy Cassa and Nyla’s acting prowess, so some of that stuff fell falt for me. Otherwise, The How & the Why is an emotionally raw story about family and identity that will tug on your heartstrings. Sidenote: I would LOVE a novella that explores what happens after the epiloge. I think the story ends in the right place narratively. But as soon as I finished the book, I put it down in my lap and said "NO." so I would really love to see "the next" of THe How & the Why.I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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  • Kait Goodwin (Kait Plus Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to be posted on http://kaitplusbooks.com closer to the release date (which is in November, not December. Oops!), but just know that this is probably going to be my favorite book of 2019. So read this book as soon as you can get your hands on it!!! (And also have a box of tissues ready) Full review to be posted on http://kaitplusbooks.com closer to the release date (which is in November, not December. Oops!), but just know that this is probably going to be my favorite book of 2019. So read this book as soon as you can get your hands on it!!! (And also have a box of tissues ready)🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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  • Mari Johnston
    January 1, 1970
    This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.Content Warnings: adoption, hospitals, heart disease, surgery, racism, abuse, depression, suicide attempt, drug abuse, alcoholismThis book. THIS. BOOK. Oh my gosh…Every single sentence oozed emotion. I felt every word – all the hope, fear, longing, embarrassment, anger, confusion, dread, excitement.It’s hard to write a review for a book like this. Cassandra’s mom dealt with heart issues and was in the hospital for the This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.Content Warnings: adoption, hospitals, heart disease, surgery, racism, abuse, depression, suicide attempt, drug abuse, alcoholismThis book. THIS. BOOK. Oh my gosh…Every single sentence oozed emotion. I felt every word – all the hope, fear, longing, embarrassment, anger, confusion, dread, excitement.It’s hard to write a review for a book like this. Cassandra’s mom dealt with heart issues and was in the hospital for the majority of the book which made it incredibly difficult for me to read but I’m so thankful I did. This is a story that clearly came straight from Cynthia Hand’s heart and I’m honored I was able to read it. You have to feel what you feel. There are alternating storylines between Cassandra’s birth mom writing letters during her pregnancy and Cassandra’s senior year in high school. It was so easy to be invested in both stories. They were woven together exceptionally well and I loved being able to connect the dots between the two.The characters were all incredible. Each person had an amazing amount of depth and they were so dynamic. They felt like real people – almost as if I could open Facebook, type their names into the search bar, and see them living their lives through pictures and status updates. Your genes don’t define you. The How & the Why is a truly beautiful and heartbreaking yet hope-filled own voices story. It’s one that demands to be felt. I devoured it in two sittings (it would have been one but I have a toddler okay?) and I almost want to start it all over again right now. I know I’ll be carrying Cassandra with me for a very long time.A digital ARC was provided through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked against the final copy.
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  • Shalini
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful poignant story which brought a lump to my throat at times when the emotions rose like a tidal wave.This book was about family, a young 16 year old girl S who gave up her baby for adoption and Cassandra the baby who was adopted and was now eighteen and wanted to find her birth mother. The story also dealt with the relationships with her parents, grandmother, best friend Nyla and Bastian. Her ambition and future education were well weaved into the story. Her mother was on the waiting A beautiful poignant story which brought a lump to my throat at times when the emotions rose like a tidal wave.This book was about family, a young 16 year old girl S who gave up her baby for adoption and Cassandra the baby who was adopted and was now eighteen and wanted to find her birth mother. The story also dealt with the relationships with her parents, grandmother, best friend Nyla and Bastian. Her ambition and future education were well weaved into the story. Her mother was on the waiting list for a heart transplant, Cassandra had to deal with the reality of that situation too.My first book by author Cynthia Hand, and it was just so beautiful. Written in simple words, the story touched my heart with its honest emotions. The author's thoughts, via her characters, came across crystal clear. The bond in that family, the love they shared, made me want to bask in its gentle rays like a sunflower in the morning sun.The book spoke about reality coated with hope. It spoke about problems covered in strength. It spoke about fear encompassed in love. Every single chapter was real, Cassandra stole my heart away, and it was S's story which stopped my heart at the magnitude of her love and sacrifice.Read the story, cry with this family, laugh with them. Enjoy their love, see how they deal with their pain and hurt. Don't just read the words, feel the words. Every single one would touch you deep in your soul. It might be a Young Adult genre, but it spoke the long known language of love and family.
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  • Stacy Fetters
    January 1, 1970
    "To me, you’re still sort of intangible. I know you’re in there, but you’re not obvious yet. You’re tight pants. You’re heartburn. You’re the space alien slowly taking over my body. You’re X."Going into this book, I thought it was going to be an easy read. Oh, I was so wrong. It was deeply emotional and beautiful. I found my eyes filling with tears as I read Cassandra’s story. Family stories are a definite must-read and I never wanted this to end. Cassandra is adopted and she never knew her "To me, you’re still sort of intangible. I know you’re in there, but you’re not obvious yet. You’re tight pants. You’re heartburn. You’re the space alien slowly taking over my body. You’re X."Going into this book, I thought it was going to be an easy read. Oh, I was so wrong. It was deeply emotional and beautiful. I found my eyes filling with tears as I read Cassandra’s story. Family stories are a definite must-read and I never wanted this to end. Cassandra is adopted and she never knew her biological parents. She just turned eighteen and has questions about who she is and who her biological parents are. Cass starts filling out forms to request all the information she can get and even turns to adoption websites for answers. She finds out that her biological mother wrote her letters during her pregnancy. They may hold clues on who her biological parents are and lead her into the right direction to discovering herself.This all happens during the most important part of a persons life, senior year of high school. Cassandra and her friends should be worrying about graduating, choosing the perfect school, and having all of your firsts. Cassandra and her best friend, Nyla have more on their plate. Will Cassandra find the answers she’s looking for? Or will all of this come to a dead end?Cassandra’s story is something that I didn’t know much about. I didn’t know how the adoption process works and I was glad to learn something. You’ll fall in love with Cassandra, her family, and her friends. Even though you don’t get to see Cassandra’s biological Mom much, you’ll realize that she was one of the strongest characters here. I really would love to read more about her. The How & The Why is such a moving book, it actually brought me to tears numerous times. This book made me feel more human that I have ever felt. I hesitated with this book and I shouldn’t have. It opened my eyes and I know it’ll open yours. Just remember to be the best you.
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  • Paula Phillips
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book, I knew I wanted to read it as I have always been fascinated with adoption stories and the desire to meet your birth parents. I think it has stemmed from the fact that my dad never knew his birth father and also I have an older half- brother who was adopted out five and half years before I was born. I have met him a few times but we aren't close. In The How and the Why, you could also see the author's "realness' shine through as she was also adopted. As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book, I knew I wanted to read it as I have always been fascinated with adoption stories and the desire to meet your birth parents. I think it has stemmed from the fact that my dad never knew his birth father and also I have an older half- brother who was adopted out five and half years before I was born. I have met him a few times but we aren't close. In The How and the Why, you could also see the author's "realness' shine through as she was also adopted. The How and Why starts off with one of our main characters - a 16 yr old pregnant girl "S" who is in a home for unwed mothers and they are writing as a project- letters to their future babies - at first "S" doesn't want to write as she is giving up the baby but as the book goes along, we see her getting into the groove of it and writing her unborn child letters. The second storyline jumps 18 years into the future where we meet Cassandra aka Cass who was the baby of "S" and adopted out. Her adopted mother is sick and now that she is 18 years old and ready for college, she has this desire to know about her birth parents and the why. Cass's best friend is also adopted from Libya and we learn a little about her adoption too. I had hoped that this book's ending would have had maybe an extra chapter as it felt like it had just gotten to the most exciting part and then wham bam it's over. The ending of this book reminded me of C.C Hunter's In Another Life as like in The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand - I felt a bit cheated at the ending as it's like the book had a major lead-up and then "poof" it's over and very anti-climatic. If you are wanting a story that focuses on the lead-up to the adoption but not much for the after-adoption life, then you will enjoy The How and the Why. But if you are in it, for the latter - don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed like I was slight.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    The How and the Why is a Young Adult contemporary book.I have enjoyed previous books by this author so I was excited to get to read her newest book.The narrator is 18 year old Cassandra (1st person POV). She lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho.Cassandra is starting her senior year of high school. So she has to think about college. But she also has other serious things going on in her life.She was adopted at birth. And now that she is 18 she has to decide if she wants to learn more about her birth The How and the Why is a Young Adult contemporary book.I have enjoyed previous books by this author so I was excited to get to read her newest book.The narrator is 18 year old Cassandra (1st person POV). She lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho.Cassandra is starting her senior year of high school. So she has to think about college. But she also has other serious things going on in her life.She was adopted at birth. And now that she is 18 she has to decide if she wants to learn more about her birth mother. This is her story. But the book is interspersed with letters from the 16 year old girl who gave her up for adoption.Also there is a major storyline concerning Cass' mom (the one who raised her).This book was emotional and moving. Although the beginning was slowly paced. It took me a while to truly get into this story. But once I did I could not put it down.My favorite things about this book: 1) Cass' parents. 2) The fact that Cass loves musical theatre and that her school is performing Into The Woods, which I adore. 3) The epilogue. This epilogue blew me away.This story was so interesting. I liked seeing how adoption could affect an entire family. And I really enjoyed being in Cass' head. I was beyond obsessed with everything involving the school musical. I actually wish that we had gotten even more Into The Woods!I was also riveted by the story going on with Cass' mom who adopted her. That added a lot to the book. Plus I was very invested by her college decisions, especially re: everything to do with scholarships.Also the author's notes were very touching (she was adopted). What a wonderful YA story that focuses on family. As mentioned the epilogue was epic. Although I really wish that the story had continued. I would have loved to see what happened after the last scene in the book.Thanks to edelweiss and HarperTeen for allowing me to read this book.
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  • Toya
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars rounded up! The How & The Why is a beautiful and poignant coming of age novel that was so deeply emotional. From page to page, I didn’t know if I would end up laughing or tear up. My heart was bursting at the seams the entire time.Cassandra is adopted and has never known her biological parents. She has had the incredible fortune of being raised by two amazing parents. Now that Cass is eighteen and starting her senior year, she should be focusing on college applications, but she 4.5 stars rounded up! The How & The Why is a beautiful and poignant coming of age novel that was so deeply emotional. From page to page, I didn’t know if I would end up laughing or tear up. My heart was bursting at the seams the entire time.Cassandra is adopted and has never known her biological parents. She has had the incredible fortune of being raised by two amazing parents. Now that Cass is eighteen and starting her senior year, she should be focusing on college applications, but she has other issues that are more pressing. Cass’s mom lives in the hospital full-time while she waits for a heart transplant, so even with good health insurance, their family is dead broke which severely limits her options.Feeling lost about herself, Cass decides it’s time to find out information about her biological parents. Cass learns that there was a program where mothers wrote letters to their babies that they gave up for adoption which could be requested when the child turns eighteen. Gripped with both fear and intrigue, Cass fills out all of the paperwork in hopes to finally get some answers.The story alternates between present day Cass and the letters that her birth mother wrote when she was sixteen and pregnant. The letters were incredible. They were packed with so much honesty and emotion.This book tackles a myriad of topics and issues, and honestly, I just loved all of it. I loved the family dynamics, Cass and Nyla’s friendship, Cass’s parents and their unconditional love and support, the letters, Bastian and his character arc, the theatre. There were definitely times that this book was utterly heartbreaking, but one thing that continues is to never give up hope. Also, the epilogue of this book is incredible! Thank you to Wunderkind PR for providing a finished copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Ren (A Bookish Balance)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5 starsThe How & the Why is a dual narrative story following an adopted girl named Cassie and her birth mother, S. In Cassie's narrative we see she's feeling a little lost, her mom's heart is failing, her dad is pushing her to go to a school she doesn't want to, and she's beginning to have questions about her birth mom (she had a closed adoption). S's perspective is a series of letters written to Cassie that follow S's pregnancy journey. I loved how Cassie's perspective never quite went 4.5/5 starsThe How & the Why is a dual narrative story following an adopted girl named Cassie and her birth mother, S. In Cassie's narrative we see she's feeling a little lost, her mom's heart is failing, her dad is pushing her to go to a school she doesn't want to, and she's beginning to have questions about her birth mom (she had a closed adoption). S's perspective is a series of letters written to Cassie that follow S's pregnancy journey. I loved how Cassie's perspective never quite went the way I expected it to, and I really appreciated how her friendship with her best friend Nyla was such an important part of the story, it's refreshing to see friendship play a larger role than romance. I also loved that Cassie's school was putting on the play Into the Woods, because that's my favourite play and it made me connect with the story in a way I wasn't expecting to. But the highlight for me was S's perspective, her personality really shines through from her letters and she's so easy to root for. S is spunky and has such a good heart and I find myself wanting to read more of her story. Characters aside, I think there were a lot of good conversations about adoption in this novel and that the subject was well handled.I'm not really sure how I feel about the epilogue (the story would have been fine without it), but overall this is easily one of the best new releases of 2019.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) As an adoptee, I don't think I have the words to describe how much I adored The How & the Why. It's a story that has the power to resonate with a lot of adoptees. The questions that you ask, "How and why?" How did I get to where I am and why?While neither Cass or Nyla, two characters who were adopted in The How & the Why, represent my adoption story, I could deeply (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) As an adoptee, I don't think I have the words to describe how much I adored The How & the Why. It's a story that has the power to resonate with a lot of adoptees. The questions that you ask, "How and why?" How did I get to where I am and why?While neither Cass or Nyla, two characters who were adopted in The How & the Why, represent my adoption story, I could deeply resonate with this pull. And as an adoptee, my own relationship to searching for my birth parents has evolved over time. But I could never deny that the questions always existed. The representation in The How & the Why is absolutely phenomenal and I want a thousand other adoption stories. We are asked, will Cassandra find out how her story began? Why she was given up for adoption?Hand is able to expertly create two stories in The How & the Why - both Cassandra's and her biological mother's story. Told in letters from Cassandra's birth mother to Cassandra, we are able to see not only how much time has changed, but the other side to the story. The build up and the fall. Through this perspective we are able to ask about questions of sacrifice and selfishness. The book is an emotional ride, but Hand allows readers to deepen their understanding of adoption and what it means to be adopted.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Madison
    January 1, 1970
    The How and the Why is a touching, remarkable novel about family. Cynthia Hand delivers sad and funny moments that will have readers chuckling even as they wipe away tears. A story about adoption, belonging, acceptance and love.Cass has always known she was adopted. It’s something her parents have shared with her, even if there were no details about her birth parents, their lives or why they gave her up for adoption. But as Cass’s mother waits for a heart transplant that seems increasingly The How and the Why is a touching, remarkable novel about family. Cynthia Hand delivers sad and funny moments that will have readers chuckling even as they wipe away tears. A story about adoption, belonging, acceptance and love.Cass has always known she was adopted. It’s something her parents have shared with her, even if there were no details about her birth parents, their lives or why they gave her up for adoption. But as Cass’s mother waits for a heart transplant that seems increasingly unlikely, Cass is struck by a desire to find her birth mother.Cass is a likeable character. She is funny, a good friend, loves her parents, is concerned about doing the right thing, makes mistakes, says and does things she regrets, knows that looking for her birth parents could cause her parents hurt and doesn’t want to do that, loves drama and acting and singing, and is basically a nice, thoughtful, flawed teenager. It is enjoyable to read as she navigates friendships, crushes and her end-of-school days, and makes choices about her future,Spaced between Cass’s story are letters written by Cass’s birth mother. They are long, detailed letters and so wonderfully capture the voice, fears and hopes of this young woman facing pregnancy and the adoption of her child. I think these letters were my favourite part of the story. They provide enough detail to give the reader a full picture of her life and decisions. And the way they are scattered into Cass’s story was done perfectly. Unsurprisingly, this book is about family. Cass loves her parents and they share a wonderful, open relationship. Cass’s mother is sick, waiting for a heart transplant and this situation and her mother’s support for Cass’s search for her birth mother brought tears to my eyes. Cass also has the support of a loving extended family (I almost died laughing during the scene we first meet Cass’s grandmother and uncle. Awkward). The way The How and the Why discusses adoption and family, the choice to put a child up for adoption and the search for birth parents was done with so much heart. There is so much to this book - crushes on boys, complicated friendships (the friendship between Nyla and Cass was awesome and so authentic), further education choices, financial difficulties, the impact of coming out to an unsupportive family. I really enjoyed this story and fell in love with the characters. But that epilogue!! Seriously. That it NOT how you end a book. Now I’m going to need a sequel just to find out what happens in those final few moment. Seriously. I’m kind of mad right now. Luckily, the book is worth it.The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
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  • Madeline Nixon
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book going into it. I knew I would either love or hate it, because that’s how I feel about adoption stories, having come from a family that is involved with foster care and adoptive families. I feel like this book was really well done, very tasteful, and accurately presented a situation. I could relate to Cassandra and S. The writing was very approachable and had a lot of heart to it. I know this is a personal story for the author and that came across. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book going into it. I knew I would either love or hate it, because that’s how I feel about adoption stories, having come from a family that is involved with foster care and adoptive families. I feel like this book was really well done, very tasteful, and accurately presented a situation. I could relate to Cassandra and S. The writing was very approachable and had a lot of heart to it. I know this is a personal story for the author and that came across. It felt authentic, real, and emotional. The only thing I wish there was more of was the reconciliation between Cassandra and her birth mother. But overall this book was fantastic and I really enjoyed the read. (Thank you HarperCollins for the ARC. All opinions are my own.)
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  • Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
    January 1, 1970
    This is my favorite Cynthia Hand contemporary novel she has written so far. Hand tells us two stories. One is in form of letter of a pregnant teen to her unborn baby and the other is the story of a adopted girl. Both of the girls had different voices but I found myself more interested in the life of the mysterious pregnant girl.
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  • Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
    January 1, 1970
    Not a damn clue what this is about but it's Cynthia Hand so I gotta have it
  • Nay Denise
    January 1, 1970
    Received a copy for review from the publisher.Gutted. Beautifully written. Heart-wrenching. Loved the ending. Debating between a 3.75 or 4 star rating.Full review to come.--------------------------------Going with a solid four star rating for this beauty.If you do not want a book that will make you cry tears then do not pick up this book. This book is real and heartwarming that you will cry with each turn the page. A YA contemporary that sheds light on adoption and the heart of a teen wanting to Received a copy for review from the publisher.Gutted. Beautifully written. Heart-wrenching. Loved the ending. Debating between a 3.75 or 4 star rating.Full review to come.--------------------------------Going with a solid four star rating for this beauty.If you do not want a book that will make you cry tears then do not pick up this book. This book is real and heartwarming that you will cry with each turn the page. A YA contemporary that sheds light on adoption and the heart of a teen wanting to know her origin. Cynthia Hand did a phenomenal job at writing this beautiful dual timeline story.The story follows Cassandra as she has now turned 18 years old. She was adopted as a newborn by loving parents and knows the story of her coming to them. She, however, does not know the story of her birth mother. She goes on a journey to learn more about her mother and as she crosses paths with different people she begins to learn more than she ever thought.With the present timeline being in play we get chapters in between of the past in which Cassandra's birth mother is writing letters while she was pregnant at 16 years old. The letters are filled with life experiences, personal thoughts and hopes from Cassandra's birth mother. They make you laugh and cry at the different things she writes.I loved the way this story was heavy on relationships between family and friends. There are many ups and downs, but Cynthia shows these bonds without all the negatives that we normally see in them. I love the way she shows real life problems while still keeping it clean.Each character was an asset to the story and to Cassandra's growth and understanding of herself. I loved that ending!!!! Oh my, it was amazing to see and I wanted more.I definitely recommend this.
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  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    Adoption stories warm my heart. I am not completely closed off to the idea of adopting one day. I have cousins who were adopted. And another cousin fostered two amazing and sweet babies until the court placed them with their maternal grandmother. Sometimes adoption stories aren't always happy. So I was intrigued to read this one by Cynthia Hand considering her personal experience with being adopted.Honestly, I started The How and the Why pretty quickly after being approved for it. But then the Adoption stories warm my heart. I am not completely closed off to the idea of adopting one day. I have cousins who were adopted. And another cousin fostered two amazing and sweet babies until the court placed them with their maternal grandmother. Sometimes adoption stories aren't always happy. So I was intrigued to read this one by Cynthia Hand considering her personal experience with being adopted.Honestly, I started The How and the Why pretty quickly after being approved for it. But then the book starts with the biological mother writing a letter to her unborn child. She isn't forced to do so exactly but she isn't really into it either. That part didn't endear her to me. And then Cass tells her best friend that she thinks she's ready to have sex. And I was like "what?" And this is where I put the book back down again. I just questioned whether I wanted to read this book after all. But I gave it some time and then came back to it closer to publication.And you know what? Like a paragraph later kind of helped me right on past my issues. I still think Cass's statement about being ready for sex wasn't fully explored. Perhaps discussing how certainly they're happy she is in their lives, but that she might want to avoid putting herself in a situation that could result in becoming pregnant herself the same way as her biological mother at 16. Granted, Cass was already 18 and considered an adult.The other issue that initially caused me to put The How and the Why down for a bit was S, the biological mother. Her second letter explains a good bit more, and her subsequent letters even more so. We really begin to learn about her and connect to her. So I was able to move past the things that initially turned me off about her.The How and the Why has no romance. Honestly, there wasn't much room for one, and the book was still good without it. Yet I always prefer a romance. Personal preference that is no fault of the book's but I feel I should mention.I will say that The How and the Why made me want to be a part of the theater in some way. I wish I'd had the opportunity to do more of that kind of thing in school. Maybe my kids will enjoy it in the future.The How and the Why ended up being a really good book. I enjoyed the process once I picked it up the second time. Honestly, the break was probably the best thing for my enjoyment of this book. My personal reading preferences missed the romance, but the book really didn't need one. I also teared up at one particular part, but no tears actually fell. The How and the Why gets 4 Stars. Have you read The How and the Why? What did you think? Let me know!
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  • The Clever Reader
    January 1, 1970
    I am so glad I’ve come to love YA Contemporary novels because I got to review this one! The How and the Why is an adoption story about a young girl who has always known she was adopted but never felt the need to find her birth mother until she turned 18 and it became a possibility.Cass loves theater, has the best bestie ever, and has two loving parents. Now that she’s older and about to leave for college a part of her wants to know more about where she comes from. When her parents provide her I am so glad I’ve come to love YA Contemporary novels because I got to review this one! The How and the Why is an adoption story about a young girl who has always known she was adopted but never felt the need to find her birth mother until she turned 18 and it became a possibility.Cass loves theater, has the best bestie ever, and has two loving parents. Now that she’s older and about to leave for college a part of her wants to know more about where she comes from. When her parents provide her with documents from her birth mother she starts to discover a little piece of her. After further research she finds out that her birth mother may have written her a letter but when her request is full-filled she finds that she didn’t just write her one letter but 17. Follow Cass as she struggles with wanting to find her birth mother while not wanting to hurt her adoptive parents. The friendships and family dynamics were really well done and positive. I enjoyed reading about Cass and her journey to discovering whether or not she truly wants to know where she comes from.S is in a girls home for expecting mothers. She’s only 16 years old and knows she’s going to have a girl. She’s decided from the beginning that the best thing to do is to give her baby up for adoption. When she’s encouraged to write a letter to her baby that she’ll be able to request when she’s 18 S doesn’t take it seriously. Why would she want to do that? But after some coaxing she ends up writing her 17. Through these unique letters you get to learn who S is, where she comes from, and why she chose adoption for her baby. It was a fun way to format another POV.I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and if you love a good YA Contemporary than you should definitely pick this one up! The pacing was perfect for a contemporary, the story compelling, and the character development was well done.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    If you haven't read any books by Cynthia Hand yet, I highly recommend you start ASAP! Seriously. Her contemporary books always hit hard with the emotions and this was no different. I didn't know a lot about the book before I jumped right in and now I'm glad I didn't. This book made such a big impact and I hope people are going to be reading it.The How & the Why introduces us to a teen girl who was adopted as a baby. She's dealing with turning eighteen and trying to figure out if she wants to If you haven't read any books by Cynthia Hand yet, I highly recommend you start ASAP! Seriously. Her contemporary books always hit hard with the emotions and this was no different. I didn't know a lot about the book before I jumped right in and now I'm glad I didn't. This book made such a big impact and I hope people are going to be reading it.The How & the Why introduces us to a teen girl who was adopted as a baby. She's dealing with turning eighteen and trying to figure out if she wants to search for her birth mother but she's also dealing the possibility of her very sick mother dying and regular teenage life with friends and school and activities. We also get to meet her birth mother through letters written to her unborn baby while she's living in a home for pregnant teens and trying to figure out her own life and future. The two stories are told throughout the book with the letter chapters coming in between the chapters about Cass' life in the present day. It's heartbreaking and eye-opening. As a reader, I found myself torn between wanting Cass to find her birth mother and wanting her to quit searching. Reading Melly's letters to her unborn baby when she herself is just sixteen years old, was just heartbreaking. The pain and loneliness that came from those letters was real. I've read very few YA books that talk about actual teenage pregnancy, especially ones that end in adoption. It was very emotional and very well done.On the other end, Cass' struggle with her sick mom and trying to balance regular life with hospital visits and college applications was difficult to read as well. I can't imagine myself in either of these girls' shoes when I was their age. But they felt so real on the page and I honestly could not put this book down. I did feel like a few things wrapped up rather nicely in the end with this one. So if I've made you think that it's all horrible and painful and there are no happy moments, that's not true. There is just so much going on in this book that I don't think I could even begin to touch on it all. It has lots of tough situations but also a set of really great parents and some really good friendships. And I think the only thing I couldn't actually get over was the fact that a high school in a small town in Idaho that was pretty conservative was allowed to perform the musical Into the Woods. I just really can't even figure out how that would ever happen. But that's probably just me. Overall, this book was incredibly well written and touched on a subject that's not often the focus of YA books. But adoption touches so many lives and I loved that we were able to see how one adoption touched so many different people's lives and how deeply it affected both the birth mother and the baby. This is a book I won't stop thinking about for a long time.Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Kelly Hager
    January 1, 1970
    Cass has never been very curious about her biological family. She has great parents and a life that she loves, including the actual best best friend ever. Except now, all of a sudden, she IS curious about them. And she feels weird about it because, on the one hand, it's a very natural thing to want to know if you look like someone or if you laugh like someone, but on the other---what if her parents feel like she's trying to replace them?I'm adopted and this book got to me on a very real and very Cass has never been very curious about her biological family. She has great parents and a life that she loves, including the actual best best friend ever. Except now, all of a sudden, she IS curious about them. And she feels weird about it because, on the one hand, it's a very natural thing to want to know if you look like someone or if you laugh like someone, but on the other---what if her parents feel like she's trying to replace them?I'm adopted and this book got to me on a very real and very deep level. I think anyone could enjoy this book; it's well-written and it has characters I love. But if you're adopted, you'll get a whole different layer of meaning out of it, and it may very well make you cry in public. (Sorry, fellow commuters!)Cynthia Hand has become one of my favorite authors, especially if I'm in the mood to have my heart a little bit smashed. Highly recommended.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    OMG ALL THE FEELSWhat a gorgeous and heartfelt story about adoption, family, and friendship. Cynthia Hand has always been one of my favorite authors and I have waited patiently for this latest one and I wasn't disappointed. This story is told in alternating voices between Cassandra, now 18 and a senior in high school paired with her birth mother, S at age 16. At her side is her best friend Nyla, who was adopted at age 3 from Liberia so the two share a lot in common. The story is based on Hand's OMG ALL THE FEELSWhat a gorgeous and heartfelt story about adoption, family, and friendship. Cynthia Hand has always been one of my favorite authors and I have waited patiently for this latest one and I wasn't disappointed.  This story is told in alternating voices between Cassandra, now 18 and a senior in high school paired with her birth mother, S at age 16.  At her side is her best friend Nyla, who was adopted at age 3 from Liberia so the two share a lot in common. The story is based on Hand's own search for her birth mother.  It is written with such love and emotion that you won't be able to forget this story quickly. While the story is so true to life, there are some helpful coincidences that take place but are necessary to move the plot forward.
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    Get out your tissues! This heartwarming saga explores adoption from both sides. Cassandra turns eighteen and begins a search for her birth mother. Simultaneously we read the letters her birth mother was writing while she was pregnant. I kept imagining Ellen Page from "Juno" when I was reading the letters. Simply lovely and such an affirmation of life. Thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Melissa (YA Book Shelf)
    January 1, 1970
    The How and The Why pulled me in from page one, which isn’t surprising because Cynthia Hand’s writing has always had this power over me. Half novel, half epistolary novel, this story is told in two POVs: that of Cassandra, an 18 year old who is searching for her birth mother, and S, a 16 year old who is living at a home for unwed teen moms and planning to give her baby up for adoption.
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  • Katelyn
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this so much. the only reason it got a 4 stars is because it was predictable at times
  • Amy Ann
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve not read the book yet but as someone whose life has been touched by adoption I’m very happy that this topic is being covered in literature more as I believe it’s very important I know I would of felt less alone if there were more books like this out when I was coming to terms with my own adoption
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Wow...it’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a book I didn’t want to put down—or end, for that matter. There is so much to love about this story: the writing, the family dynamic, Cass and Nyla’s friendship, the letters, all of it. It’s thought provoking and at times, utterly heartbreaking, but so full of hope. And that epilogue... Wow...it’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a book I didn’t want to put down—or end, for that matter. There is so much to love about this story: the writing, the family dynamic, Cass and Nyla’s friendship, the letters, all of it. It’s thought provoking and at times, utterly heartbreaking, but so full of hope. And that epilogue... ♥️♥️♥️♥️
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