The Heart Is Not A Size, by Beth Kephart – Book Review & Giveaway

The Heart Is Not A Size, by Beth KephartIn the interest of transparency and full disclosure, I’d like to mention to  you that Beth Kephart is a client of Winsome Media Communications, a company that I started with Amy Riley from My Friend Amy.

Trustworthy and responsible Georgia, and sensitive and artistic Riley, have been best friends ever since grade school.  Georgia, at a point in her life of deep and soulful searching, spots an advertisement on a bulletin board for a summer service trip to Juarez, Mexico, and just feels in her bones that she and Riley have to go.  After Georgia manages to convince their parents of the necessity and the safety of the trip, the girls embark on a journey that is both outside their comfort zone, but also in exactly the place that each needs to be in order to begin facing their own safe existences which are fraught with their own kinds of very real peril.

This was my first experience reading a book by Beth Kephart and with as much as I had heard of her, I wondered whether her books could really live up to the hype.  The bar was et very high.   She is the loveliest of people, but would I love her book?  I started to read The Heart is Not a Size and quickly found that I was dividing my time between marveling at the thoughtful beauty of this story of friendship and identity, and the masterful way that Kephart constructs and communicates worlds in phrasing that is both spare and profound.  I  took a few days to read this small book because I often had to stop just to ponder Kephart’s gift of language, and how much she is able to communicate with sentences that are seemingly casual, but which have to be carefully considered and placed by the author.

What I loved was that the characters of this novel are crafted to express the girls, yes, but to also allow the readers to inhabit their existence and merge the girls’ experiences with their own personal feelings and reflections.  You get just enough detail about each to effectively convey who they are, but I kept noticing that some details, Georgia and Riley’s size for one, are left to the imagination – to be determined by the reader and the reader’s state of mind and experiences.  Riley is described as tiny, elfin, and on the verge of disappearing, but what does that mean for Georgia, and to the reader?  One of the things that I thought a lot about was the unbalanced and negative images that are broadcast about women, that lead to us chasing the  impossible standards and ideals that Riley thinks will make her special to her mother.  Normally I would have been up in arms over not having a more complete picture of the characters, but here it added layers of meaning to the story for me.  I still think about Georgia and Riley, and Georgia’s painful, yet exquisitely worded realizations about life and friendship.

If you are looking for a novel where big things happen and the whole world changes, then you are looking in both the right place and the wrong place with The Heart Is Not A Size. Kephart places an amazing amount of trust in her readers, and while the movement in the story is subtle and unfolds slowly, lives do change in a big way.

Highly Recommended.

As an Amazon Associate, I’ll make a tiny profit if you click on the book cover or link, and buy this book or another through one of my links.

Book Information: The Heart is Not A Size, by Beth Kephart
Publisher, Publication Date & Other Info: HarperTeen. – March 30, 2010 – Hardcover – 256 pages
Author Website/Other Links and Resources: Beth Kephart; The Heart is Not A Size Website

Source: Review Copy Provided by the Publisher via Winsome Media Communications

Read More Reviews At: BermudaOnionBooking MamaStiletto StorytimeBookalicio.usThere’s A BookGood Books and Wine – Maw Books Blog – Frenetic ReaderYou’ve Gotta Read This3 R’s BlogS. Krishna’s BooksWord Lily

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

And guess what?  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Just fill out the form below to be entered to win this book.  I will draw five winners next Saturday, June 19th.  Entries will be accepted until the time of the drawing.  US & Canada only. The first winner picked at random will receive a copy of the forthcoming Dangerous Neighbors & The Heart Is Not A Size.  Subsequent winners will receive a copy of The Heart Is Not A Size.


    • I know! There is something so inviting about being able to just pop into a form. I find a get a lot more entries that way.

  1. I keep hearing such great things about this author’s books. One of these days I will have to give her a try. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Nicole.

    • It took me a long time before I finally got to read one, so I am glad that I loved the book.

  2. Wonderful review. I agree with you about Beth’s writing – it is as if each word is carefully considered and chosen. Sometimes her language just takes my breath away.

    • I spent just as much time thinking about her writing process as I did about the book. Dangerous Neighbors has the same subtle intelligence.

  3. Amy

    I really enjoyed your review. The characters ina book are very important to me and Beth Kephart’s sound amazing! It doesn’t matter to me if I like the characters or not just that they are realistic and jump off the page, teeming with life. I was looking at some of Beth Kephart’s books this past weekend and almost picked up a couple but I wrote the titles down instead since my bag was overflowing lready!

    Thank you for a great giveaway Nicole and for an easy entry!

    ~ Amy

    • Thanks Amy! She really allows you to sink into the lives of the characters. Hopefully you will get a chance to try the books soon.

  4. Great review, I feel like you captured this book so much better than I did! I think I was too busy gushing to write well. :p

    • It’s hard not to gush with this book, but I think you did a great job with your review.

      • Aw, thanks! I wasn’t fishing, I promise! It’s just such a great book, isn’t it? 🙂

        • I didn’t think you were at all. i don’t know how I missed you and Swapna. Yours was one of the first reviews I read!

    • It’s hard to say much bad about this one. I think that if you aren’t one who likes quieter books you could run into a problem, but that’s a preference thing with no bearing on the writing.

      • Sometimes I find a “quiet” book just the ticket, especially after I’ve read something weighty or highly charged. I’ve decided to add this to my TBR list. Thanks again.

  5. Kathleen

    I’ve heard so many positive things about this book and the author. I will definitely plan to read this one in the future.

    • It is so hard to fit all the good books in, bit I was really satisfied after I read this one.

  6. I would love to win these books! Please enter me in this giveaway.


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  8. I would love to win these books…please please please also enter me in this awesome giveaway!!!

  9. Can I just say I am loving me this form…how do you do it? I have to know…

  10. You really hit the nail on the head, her writing is something you truly have to ponder and immerse yourself in. This story was so meaningful to me in so many ways and I attribute 100% of that to her writing, just beautiful. I’m sad I wasn’t in NY to meet her with the rest of you, she sounds like a wonderful person too. Fabulous review!

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