Helen Frost Keesha's House

ISBN 13: 9780374400125

Keesha's House

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9780374400125: Keesha's House

An unforgettable narrative collage told in poems

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.

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About the Author:

Helen Frost is the author of several books for young people, including Hidden, Diamond Willow, Crossing Stones, The Braid, and Keesha’s House, selected an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award. Helen Frost was born in 1949 in South Dakota, the fifth of ten children. She recalls the summer her family moved from South Dakota to Oregon, traveling in a big trailer and camping in places like the Badlands and Yellowstone. Her father told the family stories before they went to sleep, and Helen would dream about their travels, her family, and their old house. “That’s how I became a writer,” she says. “I didn’t know it at the time, but all those things were accumulating somewhere inside me.”  As a child, she loved to travel, think, swim, sing, learn, canoe, write, argue, sew, play the piano, play softball, play with dolls, daydream, read, go fishing, and climb trees. Now, when she sits down to write, her own experiences become the details of her stories. Helen has lived in South Dakota, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Scotland, Colorado, Alaska, California, and Indiana. She currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her family.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 9 Up-Frost has taken the poem-story to a new level with well-crafted sestinas and sonnets, leading readers into the souls and psyches of her teen protagonists. The house in the title isn't really Keesha's; it belongs to Joe. His aunt took him in when he was 12, and now that he's an adult and the owner of the place, he is helping out kids in the same situation. Keesha needs a safe place to stay-her mother is dead; her father gets mean when he drinks, and he drinks a lot. She wants to stay in school, all these teens do, and Keesha lets them know they can stay at Joe's. There's Stephie, pregnant at 16, and terrified to tell anyone except her boyfriend. Harris's father threw him out when his son confided that he is gay. Katie's stepfather has taken to coming into her room late at night, and her mother refuses to believe her when she tells. Carmen's parents have run off, and she's been put into juvie for a DUI. Dontay is a foster kid with two parents in jail. Readers also hear from the adults in these young people's lives: teachers, parents, grandparents, and Joe. It sounds like a soap opera, but the poems that recount these stories unfold realistically. Revealing heartbreak and hope, these poems could stand alone, but work best as a story collection. Teens may read this engaging novel without even realizing they are reading poetry.
Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Hillsboro, OR
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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