Book Review: The How & The Why by Cynthia Hand

The How & The Why

Author: Cynthia Hand

Publication Date: 05 November 2019

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 450

Publisher: HarperTeen

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.

The How & The Why is a beautiful and poignant coming of age novel that was so deeply emotional. From page to page, I didn’t know if I would end up laughing or tear up. My heart was bursting at the seams the entire time.

Cassandra is adopted and has never known her biological parents. She has had the incredible fortune of being raised by two amazing parents. Now that Cass is eighteen and starting her senior year, she should be focusing on college applications, but she has other issues that are more pressing. Cass’s mom lives in the hospital full-time while she waits for a heart transplant, so even with good health insurance, their family is dead broke which severely limits her options.

Feeling lost about herself, Cass decides it’s time to find out information about her biological parents. Cass learns that there was a program where mothers wrote letters to their babies that they gave up for adoption which could be requested when the child turns eighteen. Gripped with both fear and intrigue, Cass fills out all of the paperwork in hopes to finally get some answers.

The story alternates between present day Cass and the letters that her birth mother wrote when she was sixteen and pregnant. The letters were incredible. They were packed with so much honesty and emotion.

This book tackles a myriad of topics and issues, and honestly, I just loved all of it. I loved the family dynamics, Cass and Nyla’s friendship, Cass’s parents and their unconditional love and support, the letters, Bastian and his character arc, the theatre. There were definitely times that this book was utterly heartbreaking, but one thing that continues is to never give up hope. Also, the epilogue of this book is incredible!

Thank you to Wunderkind PR for providing a finished copy for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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