THE 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.
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