THE HOW AND THE WHY by Cynthia Hand

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.


Title : The How & The Why
Author : Cynthia Hand
Format : ARC
Page Count: 464
Genre: YA contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 5, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

This is the second book I’ve finished today and both have made me cry. A lot. Is there a correlation between my tears and loving a book? Maybe. But not necessarily. I’ve definitely still cried for books I’ve hated, so. There’s that.

However. I didn’t hate this book at all. I figured this would be emotional as it was about adoption, family, and also likened to FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway — another story that I’m pretty sure I remember made me cry a lot.

This one is told in two timelines of a sort; via present day Cassandra and the letters being written by her birth mother, eighteen years before, while she was pregnant and waiting to give up her baby for adoption.

There was such a richness to this story, both in the various situations where people were adopted, and also the reasons that lead to them, but also just family in general — both those of your blood and those you choose.

I honestly have so little to say about this book despite loving it so much. I think mostly because I’m still a little stunned by the ending. I was loving this book, solid four, but the final chapter? I mean.. sure, maybe it’s a little bit incredulous, a little bit unlikely, maybe even fantastical, but that.. oh my god, I’m just.. yeah, hello, this gets a bump for that. But honestly, ending aside, this book is so great.

THE HOW & THE WHY packs a lot of punch but I think it also does it in a smart way. There’s romance but it’s not the focus. There’s strong enduring friendships that aren’t without realistic jealousies and natural speedbumps. And I love the focus on the bright, miraculous, even luminous moments in life, even amongst all the sadness or tragedy that we still experience. Sometimes things do work out. Sometimes we overcome our pasts. Sometimes we say the wrong things but are forgiven. Something we make a fool of ourselves but get something good out of it in the end.

Sometimes that’s just the how and the why of life.

Sorry for the cheese.

Read this book.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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