STARRED REVIEW
June 12, 2018

Building a dream

By Mae Respicio

In her charming debut novel, Mae Respicio brings young readers into the warm and loving Filipino community of Lucinda Bulosan-Nelson, a determined San Francisco middle school student with an unusual dream.

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In her charming debut novel, Mae Respicio brings young readers into the warm and loving Filipino community of Lucinda Bulosan-Nelson, a determined San Francisco middle school student with an unusual dream.

Lou wants a circular saw for her 13th birthday, and she wants to build her own house: “The idea started off as a daydream, a dare to myself: What if I made something no other girl has?”

And Lou has just about all she needs as she inherited a plot of land from her late father. She has a growing set of construction skills; she’s already making sets for Barrio Fiesta, a neighborhood fundraiser for the Filipino American Community Senior Center. And thanks to her woodworking teacher, Mr. Keller, she’s learning about tools, drafting and innovative architectural designs, including tiny houses. But Lou’s ambitious plans, and her budding friendship with classmate Jack, might all come to nothing if her mom gets a job out of state, and if no money can be found to pay the back taxes on Lou’s new land.

In Lou, emerging Filipina American author Respicio has created a likable, believable girl who is eager to embrace STEAM thinking and innovation, but who appreciates and treasures her family and traditions at the same time. As Lou confronts a block of wood, she reflects on what she might make of it: “Really, I’m just aiming for the start of something. Right now it feels good. It feels like possibilities.”

And in just that way, The House That Lou Built feels like the start of a wonderful career for the talented Mae Respicio.

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The House that Lou Built

The House that Lou Built

By Mae Respicio
Wendy Lamb
ISBN 9781524717957

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