TOUR / REVIEW: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

**I received an ARC from Edelweiss for this tour. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**


Book: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: November 5, 2019

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Rep: adopted Black side character

Summary: 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 she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

I’m happy to be a part of the blog tour for The How & the Why! Today, my stop includes my review and a playlist I made for the book. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour, schedule and giveaway below!

We all wonder who we are, whether we know who gave birth to us or not. We all ask the same questions, right? Who am I? Why am I here? And even if we know the simple answers, the question never goes away. It never gets easier. It never gets solved.

The How & the Why was heartwrenchingly beautiful. While I might not have gone through the same experiences as S or Cassandra, I really felt like I was in their shoes. Cynthia Hand crafted a beautiful, heartfelt story about adoption, searching for answers amidst a dark time, and the love that transcends blood.

The writing in this book was phenomenal. S’s letters are so viscerally real, like an actual teenage girl wrote them. And while I found Cassandra a bit irritating at times, she felt like a real person; characters don’t have to be perfect!

Like I said earlier, I haven’t been in S’s or Cassandra’s situations, but The How & the Why really demonstrates how a human experience can be universal. Yes, Cass is going through a lot of emotional turmoil with her mom being sick and needing a new heart, but she’s also the typical American high school senior. She’s dealing with college applications and decisions and how to pay for it all, on top of having a crush on the guy with whom she has love scenes in their school play. There’s so much specificity in this book, but the common factor, I think, is being a teenage girl.

The universe unfolds as it should.

I’ve always loved Cynthia Hand’s books (Unearthly will always be a favorite) and I knew that she could do heartbreaking (The Last Time We Say Goodbye), but this book was on a whole other level. In her author’s note, she details her adoption and her search for her birth mother when she turned 18. It’s a subject that’s so close to her heart, and you can really feel that in the story.

I loved all of the characters in this book; S’s snarkiness shines in her letters, and Cass’s hope is contagious. I also loved Nyla, Cass’s best friend, who is Black, Mormon, and also adopted. She puts Cass more in perspective, especially being a WoC in an overwhelmingly white town and having been adopted after her entire family’s demise. Their friendship is one of the best parts of the book.

We’d both been lost, in a way. And then we’d both been found.

Theater and music a big part of this novel, as Cass and Nyla are both heavily involved in their school’s plays and musicals. Also, S talks often about music. I liked reading about their community and how tightly knit they are, as well.

I loved the ending, however unlikely it was. Sometimes you want to believe in the magic of the universe, a hope fulfilled by pure wish. And that’s what this book is in the end: love being the magic of the universe. The How & the Why details a story of hope, wishes, and so much love, culminating in a beautiful novel.

Here’s a playlist I made for the book! All links are to Youtube (and note: I haven’t watched these videos beforehand):

“dream of you” by mxmtoon
“Soon You’ll Get Better” by Taylor Swift
“Don’t Feel like Crying” by Sigrid
“Sixteen” by Ellie Goulding
“Peach” by Broods
“Out of My Hands” by Shy Martin
“Patricia” by Florence + the Machine
“Army” by Ellie Goulding
“Warm Blood” by Carly Rae Jepsen
“Not about Angels” by Birdy

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

About the Author: 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 and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novels THE HOW AND THE WHY and MY CALAMITY JANE (also with Ashton and Meadows). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, two cats, one crazy dog, two kids, and mountain of books.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook


  • Prize: 1 of 2 finished copies of The How & the Why
  • Open: October 30 to November 13

Tour Schedule:

October 30th

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Welcome Post

October 31st

Lost in Storyland – Interview
Andi’s ABCs – Review
Phannie the ginger bookworm  – Review + Favourite Quotes
Snark & Squee – Review
Forever the Wanderer – Review

November 1st

Wishful Endings – Interview
Shalini’s Books & Reviews – Review
Magical Reads – Review + Playlist
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Review + Favourite Quotes
Devourbookswithdana – Review + Favourite Quotes

November 2nd

A Book Addict’s Bookshelves – Guest Post
Books of Amber – Review + Playlist
Kait Plus Books  – Review + Favourite Quotes
_bookishaestha_  – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Phantom Paragrapher – Review

November 3rd

Here’s to Happy Endings  – Review + Favourite Quotes
The YA Obsessed – Review
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Dream Cast + Playlist
Book Nerd Anonymous – Review
Life With No Plot – Review

November 4th

Moonligh Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Hauntedbybooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Clever Reader – Review + Favourite Quotes
Story-eyed Reviews – Review
Some Books & Ramblings – Review

November 5th

BookCrushin – Guest Post
Emily The Book Nerd – Review + Dream Cast + Playlist
Fictitiouswonderland – Review
Dazzled by Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Maddie.TV – Review

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