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The Heart is Not a Size

Review

The Heart is Not a Size

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.” The flyer is from an organization looking to recruit American teenagers to help build a community in Juarez, Mexico. After reading the ad, Georgia immediately calls Riley, her best friend since kindergarten, and tries to convince her to sign up for the trip, too.

Georgia is part of a busy and loving family of five. Big-boned, levelheaded, and responsible, Georgia is a model daughter who keeps peace between her siblings and freely babysits her younger, overactive brother. She is also a loyal friend. A stickler for the rules yet always willing to lend a hand and keep secrets, she is an overachiever and a worrier who at times seems too perfect to be real.

Riley is the opposite of Georgia. Bubbly and spontaneous, pixie-like, and getting thinner, Riley is a sensitive free spirit who creates beautiful jewelry. As an only child, she lives in a huge, expensive home with her self-absorbed mother and workaholic father. Riley’s overly critical and neglectful mom is a Botox queen who gets hysterical over a fake tan gone wrong. 

Over the years, the girls have shared their dreams, insecurities, and secrets. In spite of their differences in sizes, shapes, families, and interests, they have remained best friends. But that summer is about to change everything. Before leaving for Mexico, Riley tells Georgia a secret that plunges Riley into depression and causes her to engage in dangerous and self-destructive behaviors. Working under the hot Mexican sun in the middle of summer worsens Riley’s condition and increases Georgia’s worries. The two weeks in Juarez stretch their friendship, almost to the breaking point.

In THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE, Beth Kephart has crafted a thought-provoking novel about the bounds and responsibilities of friendship. With a deft hand, she realistically portrays sensitive issues facing teens today, including how a parent’s neglectful behavior and cruel words can severely damage a child, emotionally and physically. Kephart also nudges readers to contemplate the obligation of the wealthy to help the poor. The novel is a gracefully written story about loyalty, courage, compassion, change, jealousy, and forgiveness --- wrapped in a powerful message that “the heart is not a size.”

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on March 30, 2010

The Heart is Not a Size
by Beth Kephart

  • Publication Date: March 30, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0061470481
  • ISBN-13: 9780061470486