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How to Build a House
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How to Build a House

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,735 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Harper's dad is divorcing her beloved stepmother, Jane. Even worse, Harper has lost her stepsister, Tess. The divorce divides them, just when her best friend Gabriel betrays her. Harper decides to get away for the summer and joins a volunteer program to build a house for a family in Tennesee who lost their home in a tornado. (Not that she knows a thing about building a hou ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 8th 2009 (first published May 27th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Tasha for TeensReadToo.com

Harper's life is falling apart. Her father and step-mother, whom she considers a mother, are getting a divorce, and her step-sister/best friend, Tess, won't talk to her. Then there's Gabriel. He's been Harper's best friend since they were twelve, but now he just uses her as his girl when he can't get anyone else.

Harper finally realizes that she needs to escape. When she finds out about Homes for the Heart Summer Program for Teens, she knows she's found her
...more
Thomas
It may be my fault, but I did not really get this one. It could be because the beginning of school stress, but I felt like it failed to capture my attention - I only read a few pages at a time until I eventually finished it.

The plot was original: a girl named Harper volunteers to rebuild a house over the summer to escape her broken family. However, while the book touched on a lot of good themes, like making an effort to rebuild friendships or solve misunderstandings, I do not think it fully exp
...more
Becky
Reinhardt, Dana. 2008. How To Build A House.

The third time isn't the charm. (Her first two novels are: A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life and Harmless.) It may just be time for me to dissent from public opinion and admit that Dana Reinhardt's books just aren't to my liking. It might be easier on both of us. Especially since her books are generally received well. Her first book especially seemed to be buzz-worthy.

I can almost guarantee you will enjoy this one much much more than I did. (I know
...more
Cornmaven
Nicely crafted novel about overcoming loss, with Reinhardt mirroring loss from a natural disaster and loss from a relationship disaster. She breaks the recovery process down to elemental construction steps, and ends on a note of hope with the understanding that time assists in healing, albeit slowly. Time and talk.

This is a Sarah Dessen-John Green type novel, with intelligent teens/college age kids, but not as quirky as some of Green's characters. They're all on a quest of some sort, they've all
...more
Krista
Harper’s comfortable existence in California has been turned upside down ever since her father and stepmom announced their divorce, alienating Harper from her stepsister and best friend, Tess. Meanwhile, her friendship turned romance with Gabriel is also on the rocks. In order to escape her crazy situation, and to put her environmentalist philosophy into practice, Harper signs up to spend the summer volunteering for a charitable organization. She ends up in Bailey, Tennessee, constructing a home ...more
Wendy
Apr 18, 2009 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Laura
Why on earth didn't I get to this sooner? And why wasn't it brought up in Printz discussions (as far as I remember, I mean)? I don't know that it would have knocked off any of the winners, because they were so good, but this book is... great. I honestly wish it had been longer (and I don't say that often). Reinhardt captures both the messy home life and the atmosphere of a teen summer program perfectly. And--I mean, I like Sarah Dessen, but if you read Sarah Dessen books and enjoy them but feel ...more
Mp
Bash, Bash, Bash! Dana Reinhardt really hit the hammer with her new book How to Build a house. From the alpha of the book, to the resolution,the book was brimming with demiurgic writing ideas, as well as a salient plot that intrigues the reader. It’s kind of ironic that the book is about building house, yet Reinhardt never actually built a house. Nonetheless,the plot is what sucked me into the book. At first I assumed the plot would follow Harper’s life as she traveled to Tennessee. However, aft ...more
Amy
Harper needs to get away for the summer. Away from LA. Away from the guy that used her for sex. Away from her stepsister and best friend Tess, who she found kissing that guy. Away from her father, who is divorcing her stepmother, only mother Harper has even known. She volunteers with a charity to help build a house lost in a devastating tornado. Now she's in a small, broken down with strangers, building a new house for a family, including the cute son Teddy, displaced to a FEMA trailer since the ...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
...more
Brooke
Initially going into this book, I wasn't a big fan. I really don't like when people dwell on the fact that the world is going to crap and the main character of this book is super big on the fact that the world's going to end and that it's all mankind's fault. I'm not saying that I disagree with that fact, but I hate when people dwell on it because I feel like life could not have existed comfortably for humans as long as it has any other way. As it went on, though, I really fell in love with the ...more
Sherri
I really enjoyed this, perhaps because it rang true for me as a divorced person with a single child.

I liked the emphasis on real relationships (knowing "the difficult things about the person" and "asking questions nobody wants to ask about relationships") and forgiveness.
Amanda K
When I first read the title of this book, I was very hesitant to read it. This book teaches many valuable lessons, even to those who cannot relate it in the slightest bit. This book revolves around true friendship, no matter what the circumstance.
The story weaves between the story of Harper's home life and her current summer life in Tennessee. I enjoyed the book being written like this because it allows us to get to know Harper, the main character, just like we would if we encountered her in rea
...more
Natalie
Dana Reinhardt is pure gold. I can't explain what makes her books so good, but somehow her teens are universal, even when they're dealing with unfamiliar situations.

Also, I'm a sucker for women named Harper. I like them automatically. Blame To Kill a Mockingbird.
Karlan
An entertaining ya novel which should appeal to girls. The story alternates between Harper's sad home life and her summer volunteer work to rebuild in a town struck by a tornado. There are interesting characters and romantic problems and sex, too.
Mara Halpern
How to Build a House, by Dana Reinhardt, is one of my favorites. It tells the story of an amazing girl, named Harper. Harper is on a getaway trip to try to temporarily forget her dad’s divorce with her beloved stepmother, and her loss of her lovely step sister, Tess. The destination she is headed to is the site of a recent tornado, where she will grow close with her fellow workers, and construct a house for a family who lost theirs. One strength about this book is how over the course of the book ...more
Janet
Good YA read that kept me interested all the way through about a girl trying to reconcile her past, live in the now, and move toward a manageable future.
Eric
Format: Audiobook

Comments on Narrator:
Pretty good. I adapted quickly to her voice and she has a good sense of rhythm and phrasing.

Comments on the writing and plot: Pass+. Reinhardt does not commit common sins of poor writers. I thought Harper was an odd name for the main character. It was a tad distracting for me. The author does not tax my mind with unimportant characters and she introduces new ones at a good pace so you are able to remember them and understand why they exist in the story.

Comme
...more
2017nuala
I recently read the book How to Build a House by Dana Reighnhart. Its repetitive use of language made me want to put it down after every page. On one page she described how dirty the protagonist's pants were three times! The emotions used in the book made me feel like I was watching a movie with terrible acting. The story alternates between "Home" Los Angeles, and "Here" Tennessee. This constant shift in setting makes it hard to tell what is actually happening. At one point in the book, the pro ...more
Louise
"...I mean humanity. Are we to blame, or do you think it was a run of the mill natural disaster?'
Linus scratches his head. 'Actually the definition of a natural disaster is when a hazard meets human vulnerability, which pretty much accounts for all tragedies.'
I think about it for a minute. A hazard meets human vulnerability. It does describe a lot.
...I know Linus doesn't have the answer. He's not a scientist, and even if he were, it wouldn't matter. Not even scientists know.
Everything is specula
...more
Amy
I have very mixed feelings about this book. While I enjoyed the concept and the message about awareness of emotionally abusive relationships and messy divorces, I think that Dana Reinhardt killed her message in the end.

The book begins with a very environmentally conscious Harper flying on a plane over to Tennessee to help build a house. She was very struck by the tornado disaster that happened there, and wants to help the people affected. As the story goes on, she meets new friends and also rel
...more
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
Why I picked it up: I like simple stories of people figuring themselves out.

Harper is spending her summer in Tennessee with a program that is building a house for a family that lost theirs in a tornado. She’s glad to be doing something important, but she’s also using the summer to run away a bit. Her dad and the stepmother that’s been in her life since she was 5 are divorcing, and the divorce has put a strain on her relationship with her stepsister and best friend Tess. Harper misses Tess, but s
...more
Melissa
Jul 28, 2009 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: realistic fiction fans
Harper Evans has a lot on her plate. Her mother died when she was two, and her father remarried a wonderful woman with two daughter, Tess and Rose. After they marry she and Tess are the best of friends, until the divorce. Now Harper’s life seems to be shattered and she will do anything to escape the mess her life has become. To get away, Harper signs up to volunteer for Homes from the Heart Summer Program for Teens where she will help build a house for survivors of a tornado in Bailey, Tennessee ...more
Sara Grochowski
How to Build a House was a wonderful read, full of symbolism, life lessons, and happy endings. It honestly, despite some heavy issues, was a feel good book. The main character, Harper, is going through some pretty serious things at home (a divorce, loss of her stepsister/best friend, boy confusion), but after a summer of volunteer work far from home - she learns what a home - and what a house - really mean.

One of my favorite parts of this novel was that the story alternated between "home" and "
...more
Doreen Fritz
What makes a family? How do you reconcile with someone when you aren't even speaking to them? Is it possible to run away from your problems? 18-year-old Harper is spending a few weeks in Bailey, Tennessee, volunteering with a group like Habitat for Humanity. The town was almost destroyed by a tornado, and FEMA basically told them that Hurricane Katrina used up all the funds. Harper and the other volunteers, mostly teens from all over the country, are housed in an old motel. The growing relations ...more
Sarah BT
I picked this one up because it's on the preliminary Gateway nominee list for 2010-2011. I wasn't sure what to expect, but this ended up being the perfect lazy Saturday afternoon read (or listen).

The story alternates between "here" (in Tennnessee) and "home" (Harper's life before the summer). Because of this, things are revealed slowly-which slightly annoyed me. There were times I wanted a little more info on the home part. For the most part though, I liked how the two timelines were weaved to
...more
Trevor
pages 1-227

This book is a about a girl named harper whos mother died with she was little and her dad decided to get remarried but it is hard for his daughter harper to exept that her dad is getting married again.but is not getting divorce witch messes the whole family apart again and hess her sister from her step mom will have to move. which makes her have a lot of problems and just wants to get away from them for a little bit so summer is coming up and she decides to go to a house in Tennessee
...more
Michael Vogel
Harper’s life is completely falling apart day by day. She had been the only child since she was two when her mother died. Then three years later, her dad remarried, bringing a wonderful new stepmother with two daughters into her life. After sharing a room with Tess, the younger of the two girls for twelve years, their relationship had been torn. After countless fights with Tess and the divorce of her parents, Harper made the decision to spend the summer out in Tennessee to get away from her fami ...more
Kellie
How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt is the story of seventeen year old Harper Evans and how one summer helped to change her outlook on life. Told through the numerous steps of building a house, the reader is transported between the present summer and Harpers past. As she helps build the house, she finds herself and learns how to love and be loved, even when it is not an easy thing to do.
Harper decides to leave her father in California to help Homes From The Heart, a teen volunteer organiza
...more
Susan P
Dana Reinhart can do no wrong! I loved her "A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life" so was thrilled to discover this galley at ALA last winter. And this one is just as good: Harper has volunteered to go to Tennessee for the summer to work on a Habitat for Humanity like project rebuilding homes in a town that was devastated by a tornado. It sounds noble, but her real motivation was to get away from her family for a while. Her dad and stepmom recently got a divorce, and the woman who basically rais ...more
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Why don't you have a bio section?

Because I hate writing about myself.

But wouldn't that be easier than answering a whole bunch of FAQs?

Maybe. Probably. Go on...

So where are you from?

I'm from Los Angeles, but now I live in San Francisco. Except for the summers where I go back to Los Angeles in search of the sun.

What are you doing when you aren't writing?

Laundry, usually. Sometimes dishes. And I re
...more
More about Dana Reinhardt...
The Things a Brother Knows The Summer I Learned to Fly A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life Harmless We Are the Goldens

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“They're just words. And words alone don't really mean anything. It's what you feel and what you believe when you say them that matter.” 65 likes
“I have a theory that as long as you have one good friend, one real friend, you can get through anything.” 55 likes
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