cover image The Heart Is Not a Size

The Heart Is Not a Size

Beth Kephart, . . HarperTeen, $16.99 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-06-147048-6

Seventeen-year-old best friends Georgia and Riley plan to make a difference in the world their junior year by joining the GoodWorks team, a group of teenagers heading to Mexico to do community service. In Anapra, a small village outside Juárez, the girls find the heat nearly unbearable and the work—building a public bathroom for villagers—grueling. Observant, reliable Georgia is able to find beauty in the landscape and in the people she meets; however, she worries that Riley, who refuses to eat and is already “thin as a sunbeam,” suffers from anorexia, which drives a wedge between the girls. Themes of friendship, service, and transformation are skillfully woven into Kephart's (Nothing but Ghosts ) novel, but the overall message feels ambiguous. More focused and memorable are Georgia's descriptions of characters (“I was looking at Drake and seeing moons in his eyes, and seeing the ruin in the moons in those eyes...”) and observations (“Do the right thing, you risk ruin. Choose responsibility, and don't think that makes you someone's hero”), which make for lovely, poetic reading. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)