Friday, May 28, 2010
Ever since I started blogging, I've been hearing about Beth Kephart and her beautiful poetic prose. It seemed that I might be the last person on earth to be graced by her words. Until Amy contacted me with an offer to read Beth's newest book, The Heart Is Not a Size. Now I'm in the club!
If you have meandered around my blog in the last six to eight months, you know I have an ongoing love affair with Jacqueline Woodson's work. It is simple and comfortable and lyrical. It communicates complex emotions in few pages. It makes you feel like you are young again. This was how I felt when I was reading The Heart Is Not a Size. I just wanted to wrap myself up in a cocoon of Beth Kephart's words.
Georgia and Riley are best friends preparing to enter their senior year in high school. They have known each other since kindergarten, and serve as a yin to each other's yang...Georgia is tall, regimented and smart, Riley is elfin, free-spirited and an under-achiever. Georgia comes from a warm, supportive family, and Riley's is distant and dysfunctional. They both decide that to further their resumes, and have a little adventure, they will travel with a group of teens to Juarez Mexico to build public bathrooms for a poor rural community.
The girls go into the experience with some personal baggage, issues that have been triggered by their self-image and pressure they place upon themselves. The trip to Mexico not only opens the girls' eyes to a world of underprivileged but loving people, but is also a catalyst to self-discovery and healing.
"We find out the heart only by dismantling what the heart knows."
Some very serious issues are addressed in this book, but it never loses that glow of youth's innocence. It never feels heavy or depressive, but instead focuses on the power of friendship and the importance of facing down your fears. My only complaint was that it wasn't a couple hundred pages longer. And it certainly could have been. But instead, we must appreciate what we are given - a brief trip to a happy place called Bethland.
My next journey to Bethland will be with Nothing But Ghosts...