The How and the Why | By Cynthia Hand
Narrative and Plot
The How and the Why is a story told by two people. S and Cassandra McMurtrey. The narrative effectively shifts between these two. One chapter is told from Cassandra’s perspective. The things she face as an eighteen year old with a strong support system around her. The other chapter is a letter written by S to Cassandra who happens to be her birth mother. Despite following the letter format, S conveys her emotions, fears and love in an innocent and heartwarming manner.
The plot is basically about the how and the why of Cassandra’s life – how she was born and why she was adopted. On the other side, you can see Cassandra’s current life and get a picture of how those early choices shaped her life and made her who she is at the present. While dealing with several sensitive issues including racism, the book sheds light into teenage pregnancy and how the women are more affected by such matters.
Characters and Conflicts
Cassandra and S are the main protagonists as mentioned above. However, all the supporting characters have a distinct presence despite the two-person narration. They make their room in these two people’s lives and you can see how each of them fits into their role.
The core of the story coincidences itself with something that Cass’s mother says. The Universe unfolds itself as it should. The central conflict is definitely the relationship between a mother and daughter. It is enough to hook you into the story. None the less the book has sevral moments which makes you teary eyed. It is hard hitting and yet tender. Almost like a mother’s love and care.
Overall, I am glad I picked this one. The How and the Why is an emotional read. However, it has some light moments here and there. Often, I’ve read stories about people who come back to India in search of their birth parents and their reunions. After reading this book, I might pay more attention to them. To look deeper into their stories. To find the anguish, the pain and in the end the warmth of those stories. Not all of them have happy endings but one can always hope. Speaking of endings, it elevates this story and does justice to the overall quality of story telling.
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