THE SPIRIT HOUSE by William Sleator


Age Range: 10 & up
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Julie, 15, frankly expresses her dread over her family's decision to sponsor a "weird little Asian guy" (from Thailand) as a foreign exchange student, but when stylish Bia arrives to spend a year, he charms them all. Even Julie is awed by him, but she soon grows suspicious--he doesn't look like the photograph they received before he came, nor do his current interests match those he described in a letter. When Julie's little brother builds a Thai spirit house (a traditional household shrine) as a gift for Bia, life is oddly changed by its inhabitant. The female spirit has both vengeful and generous aspects; revealed, their effects on Bia are ultimately dire. Playfully, Sleator uses misconceptions about race and feminism to create suspense; Julie and her well-educated parents are all guilty of various kinds of stereotyping (she becomes enlightened by book's end, while they remain--well, parents). Best, however, is the logical explanation of seemingly supernatural events: the reader suspends belief only to have it systematically restored. That's a feat--and a treat. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0140364838
Page count: 134pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991


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