The Orange Houses
By Paul Griffin
Dial Books, 2009. 147 pgs. Fiction.
Fifteen-year-old Tamika is hearing-impaired and likes to turn off her hearing aids to block out the world around her. Eighteen-year-old Jimmi is back from a brief stint in Iraq and mentally unstable as a result. Sixteen-year-old Famita is an illegal immigrant, fresh off the boat and trying to forge a better life for herself than the violence she witnessed in her native Africa. As these three struggle with the challenges in their lives, they find a connection to one another that teaches them about life.
This book presents a bleak picture of inner-city life, complete with poverty, gang violence and lynchings. The characters remain somewhat undeveloped, and it took me a little while to get into the language of the book. Many elements of the story are sad, but the hopefulness that rises up as well makes the book worth reading.