Friday, May 11, 2012

Caitlin Reads!

Hi Readers!

Dr. Laura Jones’ students are back and guest blogging again! Meet Caitlin and enjoy her review of “The Orange Houses”!

Hi Readers! My name is Caitlin Thomas. I am currently attending Nazareth College in pursuit of a Masters Degree in Literacy Education. Although it may sound as though I want to teach at two very different levels, I would love to teach for kindergarten or Middle School. I would really enjoy educating students in History, as it was one of my majors during my undergraduate career. During this semester at school I have had the opportunity to read a ton of great young adult literature. As the 2012 Teen Book Festival approaches I find myself most looking forward to meeting Paul Griffin, author of “The Orange Houses.”

I loved reading Griffin’s “The Orange Houses”! It was a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale about the friendship between three characters, whose lives intersect as a result of unique circumstances. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the three characters. Jimmi Sixes, also known as “Crazy Jimmi,” is a street poet and military veteran, dealing with the demons of post war in the Middle East through drug addition. Fatima, a 16-year-old illegal refugee from Africa, wants nothing more than to leave the hardships of her past behind, and to bring her sister by her side in America. Tamika Skyes, also known as “Mika,” is a too-smart-for-school hearing-impaired 15-year-old, who constantly tries to shut out the world around her.

“The Orange Houses” reaches out and grabs you, transporting you on a wild ride through immigration scares, drug abuse, bullying, and artistic beauty up until the traumatic and climatic hanging of Jimmi Sixes. The theme resonates throughout the text in that friendship is the most important thing in the world. This is displayed as each character is willing to risk everything for each other, despite the consequences.

I believe that teens will be able to relate to the real world issues identified throughout the text. The struggles of each character clearly mirror the struggles of everyday teens. Reading the text opened my eyes to the realization of teen violence and bullying. I found it extremely scary to read certain parts of the book. Tamika’s ultimate run in with gang violence forced me to see that bullying is truly a problem both in and out of schools. Such issues as this, as well as immigration and addiction, resonate throughout society. I think that it is important for teens to encounter such text and see it as an opportunity to connect with the world around them. Because of this, “The Orange Houses” could easily be incorporated into a classroom curriculum. It represents real issues and struggles that teens everywhere face. It encourages discussion and the use of critical thinking in asking students what they would do if placed in one of the character’s shoes.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone! It is truly a suspenseful, heart-pounding story intertwined with artistic beauty, allowing the reader to look at the world a bit differently when finished.

Thanks so much for blogging, Caitlin! After reading your review, I can hardly wait to read “The Orange Houses”!

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