Rubber Houses

Rubber Houses
Age Range
Release Date
January 03, 2007
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In spare, lyrical verse, this powerful novel tells a beautiful and heartbreaking story of love and loss. It perfectly captures the intense and excruciating pain of the loss of a loved one, and the slow but gradual hope of living again and finding one's way back home.

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A Sweet and Sad Novel in Verse
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Seventeen-year-old Kit has her life all planned out. Between her AP classes, social life, and plans to spend the summer road tripping with her best friend, she lives a happily high-pressured life. When she learns that her younger brother has cancer, everything changes. Her family is swept up in the futile task of trying to help Buddy survive, and when he doesn't, they are spinning in their own directions.

Written in simple prose, Ellen Yeomans novel is one of the most poetic I've read in awhile. Grouping the poems in sections named after parts of a baseball season ("Warm Ups", "Spring Training"), her writing had a way of seeping into my thoughts. One of the poems that particularly affected me was "Children's Hospital":

A giant giraffe
of plastic or papier-mâché
looming in the lobby.
A wall of fish
swimming beside the gift shop.
Brightly colored walls,
animal-wallpaper borders
and paw-print confetti carpeting.
A bright, welcoming place for children.
But in the mural beside the elevator
in tall teal and lime grass,
I spy a crouching lion.

I've been to the Boston Children's Hospital before, but never noticed this detail.

I enjoyed Kit’s process of rebirth. A fit of productivity leads her to a local hardware store, which leads her to a job. The only way that she can cope with her brother’s death is to relieve the self-imposed pressure she’s felt for her entire life, take on a new name, and become useful. The book does not have a simple happy ending, and it shouldn't when a brother dies. Yeomans handles a difficult subject artfully, getting each step of the process right.
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