Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans
Publisher:  Little, Brown Young Readers
Published January 3rd 2007
Hardcover, 160 pages
Challenge:  100 Books in 2011, Support Your Local Library 

Typical teenager Kit lives a happy, normal life of friends,boys, and loving family. She and her younger brother, Buddy, are incredibly close despite their eight-year age difference, bonded by a shared love of baseball and math. But when Buddy is taken suddenly by cancer, Kit and herparents struggle to survive. Told in spare, lyrical verse, Rubber Houses is a powerful novel that perfectly captures the intense and excruciating pain of the loss of a loved one, and the slow but gradual hope of living again and finding one’s way back home.

Written in Free-Verse, Ellen Yeomans tells the story of a teenage girl, Kit, who experiences pain, heartache, growth, and hope. Kit starts out just like any normal teenager: active, fun, loving life, and dreaming to explore the world.  Kit is like any normal teenager… until…. her brother, Buddy, becomes ill and dies without warning.  With Buddy’s untimely leave, Kit and her family must find the will and strength to carry on.  But how? 

Kit is forced to grow up in many ways that most teenagers never have to, adults at that matter too.  Instead of being a “normal” teenager, Kit is driving to the hospital, staying at a Ronald McDonald home out of state, and in a way taking care of her parents while not taking care of herself.

I personally felt very connected to this novel – loosing a mother to cancer a few years ago I believed everything Kit went through, as I went through the same emotions.  The numbness, the anger, the confusion, and of course the pain.  Even the hope that comes with time, that life does goes on and that you can be happy again.

The change in Kit occurs one “un-normal” day in the shower – she notices the grout peeling and starts to peel the remaining away.  I personally saw this as a representation of Kit’s old self (before Buddy’s death) being peeled away and then later replaced by a new self (new grout).  

Yeomans does an amazing job translating the pain and grief anyone feels when they loose a loved one, in particular a close family member.  A unique aspect to this YA Verse Novel is Yeomans’ way of bringing in Baseball and Math into the Novel and Kit’s and Buddy’s relationship.  This is most notably seen in the way Yeomans “chapters” her novel by Baseball year and seasons.  This is a perfect book for anyone looking for understanding and even an outlet.  You will be surprised how affecting and moving such a innocent seeming novel appears to be. 

My Rating:

Don’t Forget to Enter my YA Verse Giveaway in celebration of National Poetry Month!