Friday, November 13, 2009

The Orange Houses

"The Orange Houses were not orange. They were beaten brick the color of the sky this drizzly dusk. Some long dead architect Casper Orange slapped together the nine jail-like towers way back when. Small, deep-set windows grayed cinderblock hallways noisy with need" (p.7 Griffin). The Orange Houses begins “twenty seven days before the hanging” and recounts day by day experiences of three teenagers: Jimmi, Mika, and Fatima.


Jimmi is the guy on the streets, the one that is always around and hanging out. Don’t be fooled by youthful appearance, his innocence was taken a long time ago. While in age, he may be young, he has experienced things that many of us never will. Jimmi lives day to day with psychological damage from serving in the war, as have many of our veterans. In addition to this, he has been struggling with the loss of his fiance; she committed suicide while he was overseas. Jimmie has had issues coping with the loss of his loved one.


Tamika is a very attractice young lady and is flirted with by all of the boys at school. Ever since she was younger, Mika (pronounced like Mick-A not Meek-A) has worn a hearing aid that she often decides to turn off. The equipment that she is extremely outdated, all of the new hearing devices or procedures are too expensive but Mika and her mother work tireless to save money in hopes of getting it in the future. Youth, like Tamika, that struggle with hearing impairements encounter a lot of struggles in everyday life. Mika often gets made fun of and consistently encounters bullying in and outside of school.


Fatima spends her days avoiding police officers in hopes that she will not be caught by immigration. She paid large sums of money to a "shark" to transport her to New York City (similiar to a "coyote" for crossing the ocean). Alone in New York City at the age of 16, Fatima volunteers for a local hospital to take up her time. Looking at her, you can see visible signs of distress including a scar across her cheek and missing fingers on her hand.

Many the young adults in our classrooms may not have the same experiences and be able to personally relate to Jimmi, Tamika, or Fatima. Through his language, however, the author guides the reader and helps them understand the challenges that these teens encounter every day. Following their struggles and challenges readers quickly become attached to these individuals and their stories. The struggles of teenagers with disabilities, psychological trauma, and immigration concerns may not be far and wide, but they often keep their challenges hidden and deal with the struggles on their own.

All three of these characters, though very different from one another form a unique bond that develops throughout the text. This however was “before the hanging.”


Anne said...

I am easger to know aboutt this "hanging" and how the three of them become intertwined as it appears they have very different lives. Sounds like a good book to show students how everyone is connected.

T. Arnold said...

I am very glad that this book addresses hearing impairments. My co-worker’s son is about two years old now and he is considered partially deaf. It was hard for her to come to grips with it and she was so worried if he would have a “normal” life. She was also worried about the time when he will go to school and if the other kids would tease him. I also found out that the hearing aids are crazy expensive as you stated. She didn’t get any funding from the state because she didn’t qualify. This is a good book for students to read because not everyone is going to be alike. There are some people who look or act different. We should not treat them any different.

Paige said...

This seems like an interesting read. I think that shows diversity in the three different characters and their personal struggles. I think that this would be a good book to teach in young adult literature classes because it can give them something to relate to in their times of need. I think that the book will capture the interest of teens as they follow the stories of the three characters as their personal stories unfold

Danielle Bartman said...

I also to like how this book address things that we do not always think about or consider issues. It sounds like a great read.