Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: How To Build a House


Dana Reinhardt's How To Build a House sports a pretty basic cover and a (slightly) boring title. I put off reading this book for a long, long time because of those two factors. I'm sorry I did.

The main character, Harper, escapes her falling-apart life in California to donate her summer to an organization that's committed to helping replace homes lost in a terrible Tennessee tornado. Harper sees this volunteer opportunity as a way to leave her now-divorced father and the memories of her missing stepmother and stepsisters. Unlike some blended families, Harper loved her stepmother and her step-siblings. She doesn't understand what went wrong between her father and his wife and she can't stay in her empty house any longer.

Plus, there's the problem of her oldest guy friend turned hook-up, Gabriel. He is using her for sex and ignores her in public, but she's so lonely that she'll take whatever attention and good feelings she can get. Finally, after he completely hurts her, she realizes that she can't be his friends-with-benefits standby anymore and leaves for Tennessee.

Harper is not a talented carpenter. Or roofer. Or painter. Or anything related to construction. This does not stop her, though, from acquiring skills, gaining confidence, and making new friends and a new boyfriend in Tennessee. When the summer ends, though, will her new relationships and her confidence? Will she fall into her old pattern with Gabriel when she returns to California? How can she make the lessons she learned in the summer carry over to her every day life?

This was an interesting read. I've read one other book by Reinhardt and absolutely loved it. Please, please don't let the dull cover or title keep you away from this book. It's well-written and thoughtful. It's funny, too, because when people ask what you're reading and you say, "Oh, um. How To Build a House". Yah. That totally throws people off.

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