Review of The Heart Is Not A Size by Beth Kephart

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of The Heart Is Not A Size by Beth KephartThe Heart Is Not A Size by Beth Kephart
Also by this author: Going Over
Published by HarperCollins on 2010-03-30
Genres: Friendship, Hispanic & Latino, New Experience, People & Places, Social Issues, United States, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Georgia knows what it means to keep secrets. She knows how to ignore things. She knows that some things are better left unsaid. . . . Or are they? When Georgia and her best friend, Riley, travel along with nine other suburban Pennsylvania kids to Anapra, a squatters' village in the heat-flattened border city of Juarez, Mexico, secrets seem to percolate and threaten both a friendship and a life. Certainties unravel. Reality changes. And Georgia is left to figure out who she is outside the world she's always known. Beth Kephart paints a world filled with emotion, longing, and the hot Mexican sun.

The Heart Is Not A Size by Beth Kephart is essentially a snapshot in time. Georgia, the main character, is a junior in high school. She’s this husky, solid girl who is prone to panic attacks. One day she sees this flyer for a humanitarian trip to Juarez, Mexico. She decides going to Mexico will solve her problems. She then decides to drag her BFF, Riley along. Riley, has some inner demons of her own to battle.

As I mentioned, this book takes place over a brief amount of time. You have a timeline that starts when Georgia hears about the trip, and then goes up until the last day of the trip. There is no epilogue or anything to give the reader any indication of what happens after the trip. Occasionally, this method will work for me, but in this book, I didn’t think it was enough. I did not feel the characters were fully fleshed out. I never really felt we got to the root of Georgia’s emotions or problems. I also had such a hard time really connecting with any of the characters.

I felt that Georgia was a crutch by which we examine Riley. To me, this was more Riley’s story. I am not sure that was the author’s intent. It just seemed like there was more background to Riley and we are given a larger glimpse of what drives her and her problems.

What I did enjoy was that the teens weren’t self-absorbed. Instead, they wanted to truly make a difference. This is awesome. I would have enjoyed reading more about how the experience changed the teens. I think choosing to explore causes and how teens are agents of change was a great choice, and I’d love more on this from the YA genre, as teens truly do care about issues. Teens have opinions, ideas.

Superficially, I liked The Heart Is Not A Size. It had a nice message, kept me somewhat engaged while I read it and was a fast read. However, when I think about this book more deeply, I’m not so sure it’ll be among the more memorable books I have read. For me to remember a book well, I have to have some sort of reaction to it. I have to be engaged on some level with the characters. It has to evoke something emotionally in me, whether that is love, hate, tears, or belly laughs. This book just did not do that for me. Now, this is not to say that it will not do the same for you. Remember, “no two people ever read the same book.”

If this book has you intrigued check out The Heart Is Not A Size Book Club.

Other Reviews:
The Book Cellar
Nomad Reader
A Patchwork of Books
Bookworming In The 21st Century

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. This book sounds like a let-down, but I agree with you about the fact that YA needs more books with messages that are realistic, and realistic characters.

  2. That's too bad about this book. The ability for a novel to emotionally resonate is so vital for a reader, though. I've had the same issue with Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Perhaps it was the hype but I much prefer I Am the Messenger, even though The Book Thief is better crafted. It's strange how we work as readers.

  3. nomadreader says

    I really enjoyed this one, but you're right, when I think about how recently I read it, it hasn't stayed with me. I also loved her writing almost more than the story.


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