Of all the novels in verse I've read, KEESHA'S HOUSE stays truest to its poetic roots. The poems are either sestinas or sonnets, and their density is welcome after pages that are too light on actual content. Best of all, none of the rhymes felt forced. At times, it felt more like reading paragraphs than poetry, which will be a relief to adolescent readers who are intimidated by the genre.
I enjoyed KEESHA'S HOUSE, although wouldn't consider it a "must read". Perhaps it is the sheer number of narrators (we also get poems from the perspectives of key adults in the teens' lives), but I didn't get to know any of the characters well enough to get attached. Although the book is named for her, Keesha is the character whom I connected with the least. I appreciate that it is grittier and tackles more urban issues than many of the novels in verse I've read. For that reason, I would keep it on my bookshelf for students to browse.
Readers who don't like poetry will still enjoy these poems, which feel more like a short story.