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KEESHA’S HOUSE by Helen Frost


by Helen Frost

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-34064-1
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Sestinas and sonnets carry the storyline in Frost’s multi-voiced story of teens struggling to find their way in the world. While playing somewhat with the structure required, Frost underplays her virtuosity to let readers focus on the characters and their plight. Seven teen voices are heard in describing their individual need to find a secure home and in two sections the voices of various adults round out the narrative. Stephie and her boyfriend Jason struggle with a pregnancy that seems sure to blight their futures. Keesha has found Joe’s house and made it her refuge, offering hope to Katie and, in turn, the others. Katie’s stepfather is trying to abuse her and her mother is unwilling or unable to protect her. Carmen is trying to help Dontay, who hates his new foster home, when her drinking lands her in jail. Staying at the home of their out-of-control father, Keesha’s brother Tobias sounds the wake-up call without speaking a word in the poems. His fate is a catalyst that draws the others gradually together for support. In a surprisingly rigid format, the poems manage to seem spontaneous and still carry the plot easily. With a number of threads to follow, no one character is at the center, but there is great satisfaction in seeing the narratives gradually mesh as the isolation recedes and support is given. Impressive. (Fiction. YA)