How to Build a Heart – A book review

Remember a few weeks ago, I was on a reading spree? Yup, the rare occasion. So I picked up How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian on Netgalley and even I was surprised that I finished it so fast. But was it good enough? Read ahead to know more. 

I picked up #HowToBuildAHeart by Maria Padian on #Netgalley and I surprised myself by finishing it so fast. But was it good enough? Read ahead to know more.  #Bookreview #review #bookblogger Share on X

About the book

elgeewrites How to Build a Heart - A book review How to Build a Heart

Book Name: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Isabella (Izzy) and Jack Crawford, Mami, Roz Jenkins, Sam and Aubrey Shackelton,

Setting: VirginiaThe United States of America

The plot

All her life Izzy Crawford has been moving between cities and she can’t wait to settle down at a house that she can call hers, with her hard working mother and younger brother. She has not still learned to process the grief over her father’s death in the Marines and moving away from his side of the family doesn’t help.

But her life is finally coming together. Izzy has made some new friends in her Catholic school, finds herself a spot in a cappella group and a hot and popular boy friend, Sam. Just one minor problem, none of them knows that she lives in a trailer park. 

Her best friend Roz, who also happens to be her neighbour in the trailer park, is the only one who understands her but Izzy’s mom doesn’t approve of her. And she has had a long time crush on Sam, which Izzy had known right from the beginning. 

So when the Habitat for Humanity offers to help them to build a house, she has a chance to make everything better. But that comes up with strings. You will have to read How to Build a Heart to know more about Izzy and her house building project. 

My initial thoughts

I was glad that romance was not the main focus of How to Build a Heart, even though it was a romance book. It is a family drama/reunion story, and I loved it as much. I liked the older females in the book and Izzy’s relationship with her newfound cousin. 

I didn’t like the main friendship in How to Build a Heart so much that I ended up not liking both Izzy and Roz. Izzy doesnt tell Roz anything and made it a point to keep Roz away from her life. And Roz in other hand was always mean to Izzy and literally threw a stone at her over a boy. Whoa! 

And they got over their fight so easily? Well, I didn’t buy that one at all.  Despite not loving the characters, I loved the writing style which was compelling and fast flowing. 

Things that worked for me

  • The writing was perfect and I didn’t put the book down even once. 
  • How to Build a Heart deals with difficult topics like poverty, racism, and grief and did a great job at it. 
  • I love a book with a good family reunion and How to Build a Heart has one!

Things that didn’t work for me

  • Izzy and Roz were both difficult to like right from the beginning. And it got only tougher.
  • I found it was difficult to adore Izzy and same, as Izzy had nothing in common with Sam.


How to Build a Heart is a coming of age tale of a Latin American girl that discusses economic inequity, racism, friendship and of course love. I will definitely look out for more from the author.

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Let us chat

Have you read this one? Are there books that you liked event though you didn’t like their characters at all? And what have you been reading these days? Let us talk. 


  1. Vidya

    I think I might enjoy this read as well. loved your review..

    • Gayathri

      Thank you. I hope you get to read it.

  2. Allie Bock

    This sounds like a good read. The main characters would’ve driven me crazy too!

    • Gayathri

      Ha ha.. True that.

  3. Shelleen Toland

    I haven’t heard of this one.

    • Gayathri

      Yay, now you know it.

  4. Whispering Stories

    This sounds like a fab read. Great review, glad you enjoyed it.

    • Gayathri

      It was and I enjoyed it.

  5. Olivia Roach

    I love when it is a romance book but it also manages to focus on other aspects like other themes and other relationships too. It sounds like some of the connections between characters were more believable than others though :/ I like the sound of themes it delves into. Hmm… Great review x

    • Gayathri

      Many other bloggers have loved this one, so you should give it a try!

  6. Sam@wlabb

    I really enjoyed this book, and like you, my favorite elements of the story involved her family. Padian also packed the book with great characters. Mami was a clear standout in this book, as were Sam and Aubrey

    • Gayathri

      Yes, yay to more family drama in YA please!

  7. Obsessivemom

    Haven’t read this one. I would find it hard to like a story, specially a romance, if I don’t get myself to like/care for/understand the lead characters. Sometimes, like in this book, when the premise is fantastic, it’s disappointing if I end up not liking the book.

    • Gayathri

      I totally get what you say! I feel that way mostly too.

  8. Aleen @ Lampshade Reader

    I haven’t heard of this one. If there are characters I don’t enjoy, I can’t enjoy the story. That’s how I’ve always been. Glad you liked this one though!

    • Gayathri

      I totally understand why you feel so!



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Gayathri has been reviewing books since 2010. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she works as a writer and a digital marketer. Head over to meet me!