How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow puts a Jewish twist on the classic Christmas enemies-to-lovers story. With dog walking, fossils, and a relatable main character navigating her first year of university, this one has so much to love. Fans of Hallmark movies will not want to miss this entertaining holiday read.

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia ArlowTitle: How to Excavate a Heart
Author: Jake Maia Arlow
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: November 1, 2022
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

Becky Albertalli meets Casey McQuiston in this sapphic Jewish twist on the classic Christmas enemies-to-lovers rom-com, as college freshman Shani’s internship is interrupted by a whirlwind winter fling.

It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.

Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.

It could be going better.

But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.

Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow

After getting dumped by her girlfriend, Shani heads to DC for winter break to do an internship at the Smithsonian. Swiftly upon her arrival, she and her mom almost run over a stranger, and Shani finds herself off to a rough start with the locals. However, when she takes a dog-walking gig, she is shocked to learn that the owner’s daughter is the girl she almost ran over. As the two get to know each other better, they find themselves getting closer, but Shani must first decide if she’s ready for another relationship.

❀ Relatable Main Character

Shani is a relatable main character, and I loved her voice. She has just finished her first semester of university, and the author does can excellent job capturing all the feelings of starting this new phase of one’s life. What I especially enjoyed about Shani is the way she makes mistakes as she navigates all the changes in her life. This makes her realistic, and through some of her messier moments, she is able to grow.

❀ Complex Relationships

Throughout the book, the author also delves into many complex relationships. We see Shani’s interactions with her mom, who she fights with but still loves, with her ex, who left her with lingering trauma in the aftermath of their breakup, and with May, as their relationship develops and they learn to communicate. These dynamics reveal more of Shani’s personality and bring even more complexity to the story.

❀ Diverse Holiday Read

How to Excavate a Heart is a holiday rom-com that I’m sure many will be able to relate to. I enjoyed the mix of the holidays with fossils, and the main character is realistic as she navigates her first year of university and the different relationships in her life. This is a great read for those looking for a diverse holiday read that will leave them with a smile.

About Jake Maia Arlow

Jake Maia Arlow

Jake Maia Arlow (she/they) is a podcast producer, writer, and bagel connoisseur. She studied evolutionary biology and creative writing (not as different as you might think) at Barnard College. They've lived in various places, but can always be found with an iced coffee.

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