Books Contemporary YA

The Half Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith

The Half Orphan's Handbook

Book: The Half Orphan’s Handbook

Author: Joan F. Smith

Published: April 6, 2021

Publisher: Imprint

Genre: YA contemporary

Pages: 320

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Half Orphan’s Handbook:

The Half Orphan’s Handbook follows Lila months after her father committed suicide. Her mother makes her go camping specifically for people like her and her brother. Everyone there has lost someone in some way and is grieving. Lila doesn’t want to go because she can’t stand the idea of leaving her mother behind to “see” her father practically everywhere she goes. Lila’s brother is pretty excited to go and make new friends. When they get their things to start off on a rocky start because all the campers there know each other. It doesn’t help that there’s a camper that doesn’t exactly want her there. That’s fine by Lila because she’s leaving in a week and won’t have to worry about it. Or will she wind up staying?

The Half Orphan's Handbook
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Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I thought about The Half Orphan’s Handbook:

The Half Orphan’s Handbook is a young adult contemporary that everyone should read. It is very well done, very well written, and will keep you reading. I did have two issues with the book though:

  1. I always thought that if you commit suicide then your family isn’t going to get any of your life insurance. This confused me a little because it’s something I have always heard. Am I wrong about it though?
  2. The second thing is that I didn’t like that Lila’s mother told her about her dad’s past. I get it though…She’s old enough to know the truth and she already knows that her dad killed himself. I do think if it were me though I would probably keep it to myself. Why? Because Lila already has a poor impression of what her father did. She think’s it was partly her fault. I feel like she wouldn’t hate her father as much and think if she hadn’t come into to this world then her father would have wanted to live. I use the word hate loosely though because she doesn’t hate him but hates what he has done.

The Characters

I absolutely love Lila. I can completely relate to her and I can see myself reacting the same way as she did. Joan makes her very well devolved too. Even her younger brother is awesome. There were times I actually found myself laughing at his jokes. He’s able to make friends fast and he’s all about the girls. It makes me wish I had a brother like him. Their dynamic and how close they are is really awesome too. 

I guess I always cherish reading books about close sibling relationships. Even though I have four older brothers I’m really not all that close to them, especially since there’s big age gaps between us.

The Plot

This is a debut book by Joan and she does a very good job. Despite the two issues that I mentioned earlier I still ended up REALLY enjoying the book. So much so that this is actually my first five star read of the year. The plot is very well paced and it doesn’t really slow down to the point where you get bored. The plot gets you invested in the characters to the point where you feel bad for them but are also rooting for them.

If you like YA contemporary books then you really need to check this one out.

By the way where the hell was a camp like this when I was twelve? I lost my mother to cancer at that age and even though I would have been scared to go to camp I still think something like that would have benefited me.

Thank you for checking out my blog post! If you enjoyed this review then make sure to check out my review for Amelia Unabridged.

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2 thoughts on “The Half Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith

  1. Giselle

    Great review! This sounds very well written and unique, too! Glad you liked it! 🙂

    1. Kaili

      Thank you for having me on the tour.

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