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Keesha's House by Helen Frost

Keesha's House

by Helen Frost

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Told from many viewpoints, each character's story is told through poems - specifically the classical forms of Sonnet and the Sestina. Not just the main characters speak, but also the adults surrounding them - parents, coaches, social workers, teachers, guardians. Keesha found safety and stability in the house own by a man named Joe (who lets troubled kids stay at his home without payment or official sanction). She reaches out to others, kids like herself, those whose home and life have crumbled around them, who need a place to stay. Each comes with their pain, their own fear, their own troubles, and each find the healing and safety they need at Keesha's House.
While most of the story is through the eyes of the kids, there is a part told through the eyes of the adults. This gives the story a unique depth, helping the reader to see the parents as more then just stock characters. Instead, it speaks to the frequent communication issues between adults and children, and reminds us that adults are often as lost as the kids they try to guide. While race and gender are touched upon, the real topic is the idea of hope, help, and healing.
Because of the format and subject matter, this book is a excellent choice for educational purposes. I would recommend it for high school students (and mature middle school age). There is reference to sex (both consensual and non), abuse, abortion, homosexuality, drugs, and crime, but all in passing (no glory details), and isn't anything that teenagers don't already have detailed knowledge about.

For my part, I found this book enlightening, educational, thought-provoking, and bittersweet. I highly recommend. ( )
  empress8411 | Feb 19, 2018 |
Brief Summary: Keesha has found a safe place to live, and helps other kids in tough spots have a time of rest and safety as well. This book is written in poem format and seamlessly moves from one character to another as they all try to make their way through this tough life.

Why I loved it: This book had heartfelt stories that were raw and real. Written in poem format made for interesting reading.

How to use in a classroom: Builds empathy for other experiencing hard times. Use this book as a model for writing realistic poetry.

Award & Description: Winner 2004 Bank Street Best Book of the Year Award. In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. ( )
  meganconser | Nov 28, 2016 |
Not my favorite, although recommended by someone I trust. I didn't find the adolescent voices believable. ( )
  Debra_Armbruster | Jun 15, 2015 |
Follows 6 different teens as they make very tough decisions when their are not what they should be ( )
  TeamDewey | Mar 2, 2014 |
Helen Frost wrote this touching realistic story in poetic form written in the first person. In the story Frost shows the lives of seven teenagers and their struggles. Many of the characters feel they are alone in their struggles. Some find others who are facing the same inner struggles. On the cover of the book Keesha is standing by her house. The house is not really hers. It is a house set back off the street that belongs to Joe. Joe’s aunt took him in when he was very young and had nowhere to go. He in turn took in Keesha when she needed help. And in the story, Keesha helps others. This is a wonderful story of teens, abuse, loss of family, drinking, coming out of the closet, and pregnancy. Through the whole book you can feel the strength and personality of the characters. I highly recommend this book, especially, teens who feel there is no hope and they are the only ones to ever face these struggles. At the end of the book Frost gives a website to visit and she gives some simplified directions to understand the sestina, sonnet, and tritina forms of poetry.
  KarenNunez | Dec 28, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374400121, Paperback)

An unforgettable narrative collage told in poems

Keesha has found a safe place to live, and other kids gravitate to her house when they just can’t make it on their own. They are Stephie – pregnant, trying to make the right decisions for herself and those she cares about; Jason – Stephie’s boyfriend, torn between his responsibility to Stephie and the baby and the promise of a college basketball career; Dontay – in foster care while his parents are in prison, feeling unwanted both inside and outside the system; Carmen – arrested on a DUI charge, waiting in a juvenile detention center for a judge to hear her case; Harris – disowned by his father after disclosing that he’s gay, living in his car, and taking care of himself; Katie – angry at her mother’s loyalty to an abusive stepfather, losing herself in long hours of work and school.

Stretching the boundaries of traditional poetic forms – sestinas and sonnets – Helen Frost’s extraordinary debut novel for young adults weaves together the stories of these seven teenagers as they courageously struggle to hold their lives together and overcome their difficulties.
Keesha's House is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.

» see all 2 descriptions

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