How to Excavate a Heart (Paperback)
November/December 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“After her mom nearly runs over a cute girl, fate gives Shani the perfect meet-cute. A wonderful mix of Jewish holidays, science lesbian protagonists, and a corgi — what else could you ask for? Arlow’s YA debut grew my heart ten times bigger!”
— Andrea Carrasco, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Stonewall Honor author Jake Maia Arlow delivers a sapphic Jewish twist on the classic Christmas rom-com in a read perfect for fans of Kelly Quindlen and Casey McQuiston.
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?
About the Author
Jake Maia Arlow is a Stonewall Honor author, podcast producer, and bagel connoisseur. They studied evolutionary biology and creative writing (not as different as you might think) at Barnard College. They live with their girlfriend and their loud cat in the Pacific Northwest.
"A tonic and a testament for the times. Warming as hot chocolate in a blizzard; a familiar favorite made fresh from scratch." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This dialogue-rich narrative, told from Shani’s simultaneously biting and sincere first-person perspective, expertly conveys two romantically unconfident girls’ hesitancy to act on their feelings despite boundless chemistry. May and Shani’s clever banter, coupled with their myriad relationship ups and downs, make for a cozy and sharply funny confection." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A hysterically funny book. Any romance fan will immediately be charmed by Shani and May's instant chemistry, but it's Shani's witty asides that set the novel apart from even the most swoon-worthy YA romcom. Arlow's latest is bound to become a holiday classic that readers will pick up whenever they need to be reminded of the magic of a snowy day." — Booklist
"For any readers who love to read sharp banter as much as they love to swoon." — School Library Journal
“Brilliantly witty, achingly vulnerable, and utterly irresistible, this book will dig its way into your heart and stay there for a very long time.” — Misa Sugiura, award-winning author of It's Not Like It's A Secret
“Funny, tender, and impossibly charming, this is the fossil-filled Jewish Christmastime romance of my dreams. Arlow is a welcome and wonderful voice in queer YA.” — Rebecca Podos, Lambda-award winning author of Like Water
“Funny, sincere, and real, with a poignancy that sneaks up on you. Arlow is one of the freshest new voices in young adult fiction." — Kelly Quindlen, bestselling author of She Drives Me Crazy
"One of the cleverest, most insightful voices I've read in a long time. If I wasn't laughing, I was clutching my heart to keep it from shattering. A stellar YA debut." — Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of Today Tonight Tomorrow
"Jake Arlow takes the best elements of a cozy holiday movie and combines them with her totally unique and hilarious voice. This honest story of first love and second chances warmed my Grinch-like heart!" — Gabby Noone, author of indie bestseller Layoverland
"Capturing the wonder and thrill of first love during the tumultuous journey that is recovering from heartbreak and entering young adulthood, HOW TO EXCAVATE A HEART is a beautiful testament to queer joy and personal growth. Shani will make you laugh, cry, and cheer for her until the very last page. A remarkable gem." — Racquel Marie, author of Ophelia After All
"With wit and chemistry that crackle like a roaring fire, the warmth and sweetness of gourmet hot cocoa, and the surprising softness of a gentle snowfall, How to Excavate a Heart truly gave me the romantic winter break of my dreams. You'll want to savor every word, and then run and recommend it to everyone you know." — Dahlia Adler, author of Cool for the Summer
"How to Excavate a Heart is a delightful read! Arlow writes realistic, voicey characters who leap off the page." — Meryl Wilsner, author of Mistakes Were Made
“HOW TO EXCAVATE A HEART is a can’t-miss romance full of swoons, laughter, heartbreak and healing, and an epic pup in snow booties.” — Jennifer Dugan, author of Some Girls Do
How to Excavate a Heart is a tumultuous tale of two college students navigating coming out, falling in love, and the classic lesbian ex situation. I saw so much of myself in both Shani and May and felt addicted to their story; truly couldn’t put it down." — Erica Sullivan, 2021 Olympic Silver Medalist