Written by K.A. Holt
Chronicle Books 10/06/2015
298 pages Ages 9—14
“Stealing is bad.
But my brother Levi is always so sick,
and his medicine is always so expensive.
“I didn’t think anyone would notice,
if I took that credit card,
if, in one stolen second,
I bought Levi’s medicine.
“But someone did notice,
Now I have to prove I’m not a delinquent,
I’m not a total bonehead.
“That one quick second turned into
A year of house arrest,
A year of this court-ordered journal,
A year to avoid messing up
And being sent back to juvie
So fast my head will spin.
“It’s only a year.
Only 52 weeks.
Only 365 days.
Only 8760 hours.
Only 525,600 minutes.
“What could go wrong?”
Timothy’s new little brother, Levi, has subglottic stenosis and requires a trach. Dad goes to pick up levi’s costly medicine, but never returns. Now money is tight and mom must work, leaving Timothy and a part-time nurse to care for Levi. Timothy is a kid thrown into an adult world with adult pressures. His probation officer is mostly a jerk, something he learned in “Probation Officer University”—or so Timothy thinks. Actually, James is tough on Timothy, possibly tougher than the kid deserves, but tough often works.
Timothy’s court-appointed therapist is nicer, but wants feelings. Lots of feelings. One day he gives her feelings, when he tells her how hard it is to care for Levi without a full-time nurse. The part-time nurse Timothy and mom love, and who loves Levi, is replaced with a full-time nurse—from hell. Well, it seems that way. With this nurse’s “help” life becomes more complicated, until one day Levi turns blue, very blue, and Timothy panics.
Written in free verse, Timothy’s court-appointed journal, becomes House Arrest. While quite moving, the story is not mired in sentimentality. The humor is mild, yet infectious. The point-of-view is from Timothy and is spot-on middle grade boy. Mom is so overloaded she can’t see the nurse’s rotten attitude and treatment toward Levi. Timothy’s love for his tiny brother is crystal clear, though secretly he thinks of the “what ifs.” What if dad had stayed; what if Levi had died the night he was born; what if . . . How could a young boy not think of the “what ifs.” Holt keeps the story grounded in reality.
House Arrest will hit home with young boys and girls, especially if they have ever dealt with an ill relative. The story is touching, warm, and impressive. House Arrest was a fast read for me; free verse usually is. I was glued to the pages, needing to know what happens next. Good writing does that to you and Holt’s writing has never disappointed. (Rhyme Schemer, also written in free verse, won KLR’s Best Poetry Book in 2014.)
Here’s the thing about a good book—it keeps you up late, it sticks with you long after the back cover closes, and you care about the characters as if they are real. Then—read the acknowledgements—you discover House Arrest is loosely based on the author’s life. You swallow hard, if you can swallow at all, sigh deeply, and want everyone to read what you just read. House Arrest is that kind of story.
HOUSE ARREST. TITLE. Text copyright © 2015 by K.A. Holt. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Read an excerpt HERE.
Also by K.A. Holt
Rhyme Schemer (reviewed here)
Brains for Lunch
Mike Stellar, Nerves of Steel
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: House Arrest by K.A. Holt, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”