Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The House I Live In: Keesha's House
Continuing with the DARE thread with poetry: "Grade 9 Up-Frost has taken the poem-story to a new level with well-crafted sestinas and sonnets, leading readers into the souls and psyches of her teen protagonists. The house in the title isn't really Keesha's; it belongs to Joe. His aunt took him in when he was 12, and now that he's an adult and the owner of the place, he is helping out kids in the same situation. Keesha needs a safe place to stay-her mother is dead; her father gets mean when he drinks, and he drinks a lot. She wants to stay in school, all these teens do, and Keesha lets them know they can stay at Joe's. There's Stephie, pregnant at 16, and terrified to tell anyone except her boyfriend. Harris's father threw him out when his son confided that he is gay. Katie's stepfather has taken to coming into her room late at night, and her mother refuses to believe her when she tells. Carmen's parents have run off, and she's been put into juvie for a DUI. Dontay is a foster kid with two parents in jail. Readers also hear from the adults in these young people's lives: teachers, parents, grandparents, and Joe. It sounds like a soap opera, but the poems that recount these stories unfold realistically. Revealing heartbreak and hope, these poems could stand alone, but work best as a story collection. Teens may read this engaging novel without even realizing they are reading poetry.