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THE ORANGE HOUSES by Paul Griffin

THE ORANGE HOUSES

By Paul Griffin

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3346-6
Publisher: Dial

Three unlikely friends struggle to survive poverty’s vicious cycle in the Bronx. Sexy, streetwise Mik, who has a minor hearing disability, pines after gorgeous, blitzed-out ex-soldier and artist Jimmi. The two meet the caring, illegal teen-refugee Fatima as she searches for citizenship, work and the Statue of Liberty. With their story, Griffin raises many questions about immigration laws, the education system, crime and racism. He draws appealingly believable characterizations that urban teens will both recognize and admire: Mik and her friends talk the talk and walk the walk. His plotting, however, though action-driven, has many oddly placed gaps that require lots of reading between the lines and result in a jumpy and hard-to-follow narrative. The pace picks up toward the end, though, as the three friends’ lives are at stake in a near-horrific climax that involves a gun, box-cutter–wielding girls and a hanging. A deceivingly slim volume with a slow start that leads to a breathless finish. (Fiction. YA)