Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand-- Perfection in a Book

The How and the Why

18 years ago, Cass was adopted by 2 of the best parents she could've hoped for.  18 years ago, a young woman gave up her baby in the hopes that the baby would have a better life.

Cass never really felt the need to know about this woman... until she does.  With her mom going through a major health problem and going downhill fast, Cass gets pushed to start looking into it.  The more she looks, the more she wants to know.

Intermixed with letters that Cass's birth mom wrote to her, THE HOW AND THE WHY takes readers on a journey to discover this giant question mark in Cass's life.

This book crossed over from 2019 to 2020 and I'm not sure how to categorize it in my reading life.  I put it on my list last year as one of my top reads, but I didn't technically finish it until 2020 (I knew even having not finished it that it was amazing and would be a favorite no matter what the ending held).  Anyway, besides me wondering if I can include it on both year's "best" lists-- I want to tell you all how much I loved this book.

Cass is an 18 year-old teen who was adopted in a closed adoption.  She really doesn't know much about where she came from, and she's never really cared either.  It isn't until her mother gets sick and starts pushing her to find out what she can that she gets more curious.  Cass's family is pretty darn perfect (besides the mother's heart problems), so I can see why she hasn't worried about finding her "real" mom.  Her real mom has been with her all along and has been pretty wonderful.

Once Cass decides to start the journey to finding out, it quickly becomes important to her.  I get that too.  Even though she's perfectly satisfied with the family she has, I can see just wanting and needing to know why you came to be where you are.

The coolest thing about this book were the letters that Cass's birth mom wrote to her during her pregnancy.  These letters were written at a school for pregnant teens, and the reader has no way of knowing if they will ever actually make it to Cass.  And even if they do, there isn't a lot of identifying information for Cass to use in her quest.

The characters in this book felt so real.  I feel like I know them in real life and I'm kind of sad to not be with them anymore.  I guess I can always reread???  I would compare this book to Emma Mills's books because of the overall feeling it gave me.  It was happy and funny, but also serious and heartbreaking at times.  The perfect mix.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was Cass.  I feel like I know her, and it feels real because she gets on my nerves sometimes.  I think she came off as spoiled and ungrateful a lot.  Her life seemed almost too good to be true and she totally didn't appreciate that.  Her college woes were especially hard to take considering she had SO MANY OPTIONS.  She was being a spoiled brat about possibly not being able to afford a private school.  With everything else going on in her life, it was very frustrating to read about.

It's a total 5 star book.  One of the best YA books I've read in a WHILE.  I know this author has personal ties to this subject, and it shows in the way the story is so captivating and emotional.

OVERALL: LOVED IT.  Can't recommend enough for the heart this book brought.  It's cute AND emotional.  It's fun AND serious.  A 5 star book and is immediately going on my Favorites list!

Date Published: 11/5/2019
How I Got This Book: Thanks to HarperTeen for sending me an advanced copy to read and honestly review
Publisher: HarperTeen

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 5/5

Character: Cassandra McMurtrey
Book: Taming of the Drew by Stephanie Kate Strohm

  • Cass is a theater kid and would totally be into reading about theater camp drama.


  1. This is high on my TBR. I was so blown away by Hand's The Time We Say Goodbye. She really knows how to work my emotions. I love the sound of the premise and structure of this book. I had no time to read it, when my library hold came through, but I am going to try again...soon. Glad it was hit for you

    1. YAY!! I totally think you will love it. And now I want to read everything this author has written/will write!!

  2. I'd forgotten about this book! I still have money on my gift card, so headed to get this book today!