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The How and the Why

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,612 ratings  ·  612 reviews
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
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by HarperTeen
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Sarah There's some very minor swearing, it's not littered through the book. And I wouldn't say there are "sexy" scenes, but there are certainly mentions of …moreThere's some very minor swearing, it's not littered through the book. And I wouldn't say there are "sexy" scenes, but there are certainly mentions of sex, considering the book is about a pregnant teen. Overall it's pretty tame, but I would say it's PG13 as far as ratings go.(less)
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Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
I had really been looking forward to reading this one after enjoying another more hard hitting contemporary by this author, and it didn’t disappoint! This was a such a great look at family, and particularly mother daughter relationships. It’s also a story that is both hard hitting and light hearted simultaneously. There’s a lot of emotion but a lot of joy too. I loved following Cass and learning more about her birth mother. Her adoptive parents were so sweet. She had a really powerful support sy ...more
chan ☆
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
poignant & realistic YA contemporary. here for it

there's not much to say about the plot that isn't described in the blurb. this story is about cassie who is a senior in high school and going thru a lot: her mom needs a heart transplant, she has a crush on the new guy, she's fighting with her bestie, she's trying to get a scholarship to her dream college and she wants to learn more about her birth mother.

this story is told in dual POVs. cassie's and her birth mom's letters to her that she writes
I don’t read a lot of YA anymore, but I saw this audiobook available at my library, and Kayla (booksandlala) really enjoyed this one last year so I decided to give it a go. This book is really cute, I liked it a whole lot. This book somehow simultaneously manages to be both hard hitting but light hearted and fun at the same time. At times I was tearing up and crying, but most of the book felt very light and mostly feel-good and happy. It was exactly what I needed right now.

This story follows a g
4 stars

I truly enjoyed this book. Honestly, I thought it was going to be a five star read until the end. That ending… it wasn’t bad, but I needed so much more. I couldn’t believe the book stopped right there.

The How and the Why is my first book by Cynthia Hand. 2020 has been awesome for me and new to me authors. This is a great YA Contemporary told from two perspectives. Cassie is a high school senior and ’S’ is a 16 year old pregnant teen. S is Cassie’s birth mom and her story is told through
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tucker by: Jen

Many thanks to Wunderkind PR for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review
"Dear X,

Consider me shooketh. I was not expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. I blew through it and enjoyed every second.

So, what's this book about?
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. Question
h o l l i s
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
Cynthia Hand
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Covering coming SOOOOOOOON.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-3
This is my first book by Cynthia Hand and I found myself really captivated by her writing style. This is told in dual point of view, between Cass, a teen who is living a wonderful life with her adoptive parents, and an unnamed 16-year-old girl in a past timeline living at a group home for unwed mothers, writing to the daughter she’s giving up for adoption (Cass.)

Lots of emotional moments as we are with the unnamed character as she writes letter after letter, at first unsure she wants to even do
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Y.A. and older; there are some pretty mature incidents in this, and some language.
Wow. I started this book yesterday, and would have finished it had it not been 2:00 a.m. and I made myself put it down. ( Torture; I was on pg. 360!) Anyway, I knew pretty quickly that this one would be on my Best Of 2020 shelf. It’s one of the most beautiful stories about adoption that I’ve ever read, hands down.
Memorable Quotes:
(Pg. 2)-“If I were an adopted kid, I’d want there to be a letter for me. Because I’d want to find out things that aren’t in the paperwork. I’d be curious. I
Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful.. Such an emotional ride!

This book seems to have the author’s heart imprinted on each page.
And honestly, I loved every aspect of this novel and every character. It's a story about family, friendship, and the need to belong in both ways; about first love and first major choices, about passions and and achievements and disappointments; it's a story about so much more.

It's powerful, it's heartwarming, it's incredible and deep and still beautifully subtle in some
Emily Nicholas | Emily The Book Nerd
*Thank you to the FFBC and Cynthia Hand for an arc copy of the book*

I had no idea what to expect going into The How & They Why and I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of my new favorite books for many reasons. Let me gush about this amazing novel. I cried, I laughed, I smiled almost the entire time reading the book. I could not put it down. It was so good that I read it in about two sittings. This book was very easy to devour. Th
R.F. Gammon
I was SO excited for this book--adoption for YA? Honest emotions about adoption in YA? YES PLEASE--but it ended up being a fairly shallow high school book with a rOmAnCe tWiSt and I just couldn't get through it. *sighs* ...more
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, audio-book-2020
4.5 stars rounded up

This was such an emotional story that I could not put it down once I started. Amazing.
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
"The point is, I hope you get it - the why of the whole thing. I hope you have a good life- a boring, no-drama, no-real-problems kind of life.
Good luck, X. I wish you the best."
I have such a weakness for family stories. I will without fail, pick up a book if family is a central focus, and I can say The How & the Why is a great addition to the emotional family-centric stories that I love. The story is told in 2 perspectives: 18 year old Cass as she’s getting ready for all that comes w
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I. Loved. This.

A story of Cass, now 18, an adopted child who is dealing with all the things life brings at that age (and more) while trying to navigate her feelings on whether she should find her birth mother now that she’s legally allowed.

This story choked me up several times. Everything is so well handled. When characters do shitty things, they’re addressed and not swept under the rug (as I feel sometimes happens in YA contemporaries). Cass reads very mature for her age and I really enjoyed h
Julia Sapphire
This novel follows a girl named Cass McMurtrey who has a great family life. Though she gets curious and begins to question her past as she was adopted. We go back in forth between following Cass's life and notes written by 'S' who is a sixteen-year-old girl who was pregnant at the time. This book deals with the topics of family life, adoption, abortion, illness, teenage pregnancy, and is a coming of age story. ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful poignant story which brought a lump to my throat at times when the emotions rose like a tidal wave.

This book was about family, a young 16 year old girl S who gave up her baby for adoption and Cassandra the baby who was adopted and was now eighteen and wanted to find her birth mother. The story also dealt with the relationships with her parents, grandmother, best friend Nyla and Bastian. Her ambition and future education were well weaved into the story. Her mother was on the waiting l
Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books)
This book!!! So cute and equally emotional. This is one of those books where I feel like I know these characters in real life now. Luckily if I’m missing them, I’ll always have this book to come back to. It was beautiful.

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 f
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This book is phenomenal and will make you feel so many things that your emotions might actually explode but you'll be okay with it cause it's worth it. I mean, I almost don't want to tell you much about it because I just want you to go ahead and experience it for yourself? I'll try to give you a little idea of why you must.

• FAMILY. Can I be any clearer that this novel is straight up
Mari Johnston
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.

Content Warnings: adoption, hospitals, heart disease, surgery, racism, abuse, depression, suicide attempt, drug abuse, alcoholism

This book. THIS. BOOK. Oh my gosh…

Every single sentence oozed emotion. I felt every word – all the hope, fear, longing, embarrassment, anger, confusion, dread, excitement.

It’s hard to write a review for a book like this. Cassandra’s mom dealt with heart issues and was in the hospital for the majo
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

As an adoptee, I don't think I have the words to describe how much I adored The How & the Why. It's a story that has the power to resonate with a lot of adoptees. The questions that you ask, "How and why?" How did I get to where I am and why?

While neither Cass or Nyla, two characters who were adopted in The How & the Why, represent my adoption story, I could deeply resonate with t
Kait Goodwin ★Kait Plus Books★
Full review to be posted on closer to the release date (which is in November, not December. Oops!), but just know that this is probably going to be my favorite book of 2019. So read this book as soon as you can get your hands on it!!! (And also have a box of tissues ready)
Melanie  Brinkman
Maybe these letters can say the words I can't speak...

Cass has been blessed with a wonderful life. Parents who love her, a best friend who's always there for her, dream she dares to aspire for, and more. But she yearns to learn the things she's never known, like where she came from, and who she is. All things her adoptive parents can't answer, even though their love knows no bounds. As Cass endlessly searches for answers, everything seems like a dead end. But eighteen years ago someone wrote a s
This was really very good. A slow start which builds to an unputdownable and emotional read that felt true-to-life, it was achingly sad, joyous and hopeful. I loved the dual POVs (the daughter, as a teenager, and the mum, also as a pregnant teenager, years before). I loved the other pregnant teen mums, actually, I pretty much loved the whole cast of characters, the family dynamics. A new fave for me.
Stay Fetters
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
"To me, you’re still sort of intangible. I know you’re in there, but you’re not obvious yet. You’re tight pants. You’re heartburn. You’re the space alien slowly taking over my body. You’re X."

Going into this book, I thought it was going to be an easy read. Oh, I was so wrong. It was deeply emotional and beautiful. I found my eyes filling with tears as I read Cassandra’s story. Family stories are a definite must-read and I never wanted this to end.

Cassandra is adopted and she never knew her biol
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-releases
Okay so unfortunately, I really did not like this. I wanted to like it so bad because the reviews are good and the plot sounded really promising. But this just did not work for me on a lot of levels. Even though I was listening to the audiobook and the audiobook isn't very long, it took me 2 weeks to read this. I almost DNFed about 6 times but I kept pushing through thinking it'd get better and it just never did.

So if you don't know, this is about a girl named Cassandra who was adopted when she
Paula  Phillips

As soon as I saw the synopsis for this book, I knew I wanted to read it as I have always been fascinated with adoption stories and the desire to meet your birth parents. I think it has stemmed from the fact that my dad never knew his birth father and also I have an older half- brother who was adopted out five and half years before I was born. I have met him a few times but we aren't close. In The How and the Why, you could also see the author's "realness' shine through as she was also adopted. T
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Genuinely enjoyed this YA book told in alternating voices of a modern day teen and, through letters, her teenage birth mother 18 years beforehand. Despite the somewhat hokey and predictable plotline, I simply was able to understand and root for these characters quickly- Cynthia Hand is skilled at drawing readers in and making them care. I actually read this one a couple weeks ago and it was the only book I read all the way through during those first weeks of quarantine when I had zero ability to ...more
Jan 04, 2021 added it
dnf'ed at 64%. i was so close to finishing this but the mc displayed ignorance and racism towards someone who is supposedly her best friend and i'm definitely not continuing on after that. there's no justification for it at all. ...more
Raven ★
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was so amazing and just overall so fun. I loved every part of it.
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Young Adult Conte...: #21 The How and Why by Cynthia Hand 35 24 Dec 03, 2019 10:03PM  
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Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE, MY PLAIN JANE, and MY CALAMITY JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, THE HOW AND THE WHY and the upcoming novels WITH YOU ALL THE WAY and MY CONTRARY MARY (also with Ashton and Meadows). Befo ...more

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