Mae Respicio’s House That Lou Built explores family, cultural dynamics

House That Lou BuiltTHE HOUSE THAT LOU BUILT, by Mae Respicio, Wendy Lamb Books, June 12, 2018, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)

The idea of building an entire house — even a little one — by yourself seems an overwhelming task, but that’s just what the main character in Mae Respicio’s The House That Lou Built sets out to do.

Lou Bulosan-Nelson has the ultimate summer DIY project. She’s going to build her own “tiny house,” 100 square feet all her own. She shares a room with her mom in her grandmother’s house, and longs for a place where she can escape her crazy but lovable extended Filipino family. Lou enjoys her woodshop class and creating projects, and she plans to build the house on land she inherited from her dad, who died before she was born. But then she finds out that the land may not be hers for much longer.

Lou discovers it’s not easy to save her land, or to build a house. But she won’t give up; with the help of friends and relatives, her dream begins to take shape, and she learns the deeper meaning of home and family. —synopsis provided by Wendy Lamb Books

The House That Lou Built is a multilayered novel that explores family, friendship, self-reliance and cultural dynamics. I loved how Respicio weaved in Filipino traditions with such an effortless feel. I learned so much without feeling like I was being taught or talked down to. Being half Filipino is just who Lou is, and that rings true throughout.

Going into The House That Lou Built, I was a little skeptical of a young girl building her own house. In May, my husband and I finished up renovations on our basement. We stripped the whole thing down to the foundation and started from scratch. My husband did the majority of the work, and it was a lot of work. A lot of research was involved, skills required and code to follow. It was nice to see Respicio add those elements in her book as well. More importantly, she presented Lou’s situation in a way that was completely plausible.

© 2018, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.


About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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