Friday, May 28, 2010

The Heart Is Not a Size - Beth Kephart

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...


Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

Don't worry - I'm actually the last person in blog land to read one of her books! I'm still not convinced I'd enjoy them - perhaps one day I'll get round to seeing why everyone else is reading them!

JoAnn said...

I'm late to this party, too... will have to try one of her books!

caite said...

nope...I am the last person.

But...a comparison to Jacqueline Woodson has my interest now!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I want to read this although I did feel with Nothing But Ghosts that the language was a little TOO poetic to be representative of a young girl's voice.

Andreea said...

Me too, I haven't read anything by this author. I am off to check out her books.

Darlene said...

I've heard so much about Beth's books but have yet to pick one up. This one has captured my interest though a while ago already.

Kathleen said...

Okay, not I am the last person to be graced with her words! I've got this one on my list so I know I will get around to it one of these days.

Carrie K. said...

She truly is remarkable, isn't she?

Alice said...

Oh gosh, I love that quote that you've included in the post.

I'm currently reading Jacqueline Woodson's books and I'm glad I listened to you. I'm enjoying myself.

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Jenners said...

Well, I'm not in the club yet either ... but you can't go to many blogs without seeing Beth Fans. Someday I'll check her out!

And you had a very poetic review, I must say! Well done.

Marg said...

I have heard plenty about Beth Kephart but never even thought about picking up her books! Maybe one day.

Literary Feline said...

I am glad you enjoyed this one, Sandy. Someday I may read something by this author. With so many other books vying for my attention though, I imagine it won't be for a long while.

Beth F said...

I loved Nothing But Ghosts -- I have three other books here waiting.

Zibilee said...

I, too, have heard good things about Kephart, but as of yet, have not tried any of her books. It sounds like this one was very, very good, and might just be the place for me to start. I am so glad that you loved this book, and your review has encouraged me to pick it up! Thanks!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Oh, I loved NOTHING BUT GHOSTS! I haven't yet read THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE; sounds like one that my daughter will enjoy as well.

Melody said...

I've read lots of rave reviews on Beth's books, and I'm glad to say I've Nothing But Ghosts in my pile.

I'm glad you enjoyed this and I'll be sure to add this onto my wishlist.

Beth Kephart said...

You are entirely sweet, and I am honored, truly, by the comparison to JW. Thank you so much for this.