ARC Review – The How & The Why by Cynthia Hand + Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I have a treat for you today! I have had the great pleasure to receive an advanced copy of The How & The Why and be part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour! This book is so heartwarming, and so outside of what I can relate to in my personal life, and I loved it. I loved it a lot.

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In The How & The Why, newly 18-year-old Cassandra McMurtrey has decided she wants to find out more about her birth mother. She was adopted at a few months old, and she knows a few things – her birth mother was 16 when she was born; it was a closed adoption; and she had blue eyes and brown hair. But she wants a name. Not necessarily because she wants to meet her or form a relationship or anything, but she just wants to know. Her life goes on while she thinks through all of this – her mom is still sick, waiting for a heart transplant; she’s looking at colleges and trying to figure out what she wants to do in the wake of her big dreams being made a little smaller; and there’s this new boy at school she has a crush on. Her best friend Nyla is along for the ride on all of this, although she’s not as keen on the boy. But even with all of that, Cass still just wants to know. She loves her parents, and they’ve been great to her, but she wants to know more about her birth mom.

Throughout Cass’s story, letters from her birth mom, only known to us as S, are woven, so we can see her thought process as she decided and went through with giving her baby up for adoption. In the state of Idaho, women can write letters to their unborn babies, even in closed adoptions, that can be delivered to the children when they turn 18. So Cass, unknowingly, has had access to these letters from her birth mother since her 18th birthday, and they are just the insight she might be looking for to fill the ache she’s been feeling about wanting to just know more.


3 Things I Loved

  1. Cass and Nyla. Their friendship is amazing and I loved reading about it so much. They’re both adopted, and they have this rule about friends before mens, which is just the best. They both also always compete for the same parts in the school musicals and plays, but their friendship is so strong that it doesn’t matter. I loved how strong it was. I wish I had more friendships like this.
  2. The letters. Being able to read Cass’s birth mother’s story throughout the book, before Cass even knew the letters existed… it was really cool, and a very interesting way to tell the story.
  3. The writing. This was my first Cynthia Hand book, and I loved it a lot. I’ll definitely be picking up more of hers after this. The voice spoke to me immediately, even though personally, I can’t relate to the adoption storyline at all. But I could DEFINITELY relate to the rest of Cass’s life, and it drew me in from the very first page.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

I thought this book handled delicate issues very well, since the entire topic of adoption – especially writing about a closed adoption, like this – can be delicate in itself. The book is set in a Mormon town, so there isn’t a ton of diversity, but Nyla’s situation was handled with care and I loved reading about all of it.

In terms of possible triggers – in the letters especially, there’s a lot of talk of statutory rape, even though it’s not called that in the book. The girls S is living with are all in a home for unwed mothers, for lack of a better term, and one of the others is as young as 13. S herself was 16, and Cass’s birth father was an unnamed college student she met at a concert, so it’s a little suspect in and of itself. But that’s the only thing I really saw that could be a potential trigger for someone in this book.


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

I loved everything about the writing of this book, and I think a lot of others are going to like it too. I’m giving The How & The Why a BLUE rating. Highly recommend!

Thank you to the publisher, Fantastic Flying Book Club tours, and Edelweiss for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!


Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of The How & The Why by Cynthia Hand (US Only) in this Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Starts: 30th October 2019
  • Ends: 13th November 2019

Happy reading!


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