Keesha's House

Keesha's House
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
February 20, 2007
ISBN
978-0374400125
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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.

Editor review

1 review
Sestinas and Sonnets, Set in an Urban High School
Overall rating
 
3.3
Plot
 
3.0
Characters
 
3.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
In my search for lists of novels in verse, the name Helen Frost continued to pop up as an author to watch. My library had a copy of KEESHA'S HOUSE, a Printz Honor book. Through poetry, it tells the stories of seven high school students who end up with no place to go due to pregnancy, substance abuse, homosexuality, and family issues. They somehow all manage to find their way to a house run by a man named Joe, who keeps it open to kids who don't have a proper home. Fourteen-year-old Keesha is the linchpin, inviting them to come and stay. In the words of one character, "It looks to me like the kids at Keesha's house are wearing lives designed for people twice their age."

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.
Good Points
The poetry is classic, but the subjects are not.
Readers who don't like poetry will still enjoy these poems, which feel more like a short story.
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