The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand is a book I started listening to in December before my audiobook sadly expired and I finally made it through the library hold list to finish it up this month. It’s not a short read or listen (464 pages/12+ hours) but this emotional and quiet novel is absolutely worth the time. It tells two interconnected stories–one of a teenage girl in the present, Cass, who loves theatre, was adopted, and her mother is waiting for heart transplant, and the other story is told through letters that Cass’ biological mother (also a teenager) wrote to her while she was pregnant.
This is an incredibly heartfelt novel. The voices and feelings are so genuine, there’s so much richness to the characters, and while it is somewhat slow-moving the end result is absolutely worthwhile. The only aspect I didn’t particularly love was the romance subplot with Cass, it just felt a little unnecessary and cheapened the story a little, but I can see why it might have been a necessary distraction from all the other intensity going on. The first Hand book I ever read was a paranormal romance (and I liked it!) but it’s been amazing to see over the past few books I’ve read of hers (The Afterlife of Holly Chase and her co-written My Lady Jane) just how much depth and range her writing has. I really enjoyed The How & the Why and with it Hand has definitely become an “autoread” author for me going forward.