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Rubber Houses Hardcover – January 3, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up—Kit is a junior in high school when her younger brother is diagnosed with cancer. Despite the difference in their ages, they are kindred spirits who share a love of baseball. When Buddy loses his battle against the disease, Kit is devastated. Suddenly her family no longer functions as a whole. Instead they are like "…islands/too distant to matter." The teen must find a way to own her grief in order to mourn Buddy while at the same time joyfully celebrate the characteristics and quirks that constituted his presence in her life. Written in economical and accessible verse, this novel follows the pattern of the baseball season. Despite major holes in the characterization of Kit and Buddy, this slim work speaks volumes about the grieving process. Yeomans has very precisely selected her words to convey the fear and the grief that Kit feels. As with baseball, even though it seems that Buddy's death has brought everything to a halt, winter does end, and spring training will begin again. This novel will fit nicely alongside Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust (Scholastic, 1997) and Nikki Grimes's Dark Sons (Hyperion, 2005).—Heather M. Campbell, Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sixteen-year-old Kit's normal, happy life is over when her younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia. A feisty eight-year-old kid who loves baseball, Buddy is Kit's good friend and soul mate, one she is robbed of when he dies. Yeomans weaves the baseball metaphor throughout free-verse poems to trace Buddy's decline to the poignant conclusion, "I'm calling the game." Yet the baseball year--and the book--is only half over. Kit and her parents struggle through postseason bereavement to spring training and develop a way of living without Buddy. The interesting plot structure works surprisingly well with both the topic and the narrative style. It also enhances the realistic portrayal of a family, grief stricken and out of balance, struggling to come back after a losing season. Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (January 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031610647X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316106474
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,809,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on November 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
How does a family survive when a child dies? That painful question is the subject of this haunting novel for the teen reader. Teenager Kit and her parents find their world in tatters when nine-year-old Buddy is diagnosed with cancer and dies. Kit's grief isolates her from her best friend, her school work, and especially from her parents who are following their own painful, isolated courses through the devastating loss.

Rubber Houses is written in free verse, in Kit's first person voice. The format doesn't support detailed character or plot development, but it has other rewards: its spare outlines invite the reader to interpret the details. Why does Kit dress in clothing her mother used to hate? How does her preoccupation with road maps and trip routes make her feel closer to Buddy? Why does she slip away from home and return to the hospital room where Buddy died, months later? These events are largely left to the reader to decipher, and I would expect them to be well within the experience and grasp of a mid-teen reader.

Reflecting the fact that Buddy and Kit were baseball-mad, author Ellen Yeomans has based the book's structure on the baseball year. Buddy is diagnosed during the season warm-up, dies during the regular season. Kit is numb with grief during Postseason. Hot Stove is the off-season when trades are made and things are in turmoil. Spring Training brings the hard work, the starting over. Many of the poems have baseball-themed names: Opening Day, Roster Change, Triple A, Curve Ball. The recurring baseball metaphor adds much to the book for a baseball fan.

This is at least a two-hanky book but the story ends on a note of hope, strength and recovery. The reader of any age is invited to fill in the outlines of Kit's loss and re-entry. A very rewarding book, highly recommended.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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Format: Hardcover
RUBBER HOUSES is a moving free-verse novel about Kit's experiences loving her younger brother, losing him to cancer, and moving on but never forgetting.

Kit and Buddy, despite their age gap, are very close, and Kit is devastated when he becomes sick and she finally, but not unexpectedly, loses her younger brother. She shuts down for awhile after Buddy's death, but slowly, she starts to pick up the pieces of her life and continue to live it, even without Buddy by her side, even with the pain of loss that, even when it's not fresh, is never gone.

This is an emotional, well-written novel about love, loss, and moving on despite it all. Kit is a realistic, well-developed character, but often she is the only one; the other characters seem less than real much of the time. Despite this, RUBBER HOUSES is worth reading. Whether readers can relate to Kit's situation or not, all will feel her pain at losing her brother in this painfully honest story.

Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Father, mother, sister, brother. A happy family - until the youngest, the boy, is diagnosed with cancer. Told in verse from the teenage daughter's point of view, Rubber Houses is a tearjerker of a story, written simply and shared gently.

Even though Kit is eight years older than Buddy, the two are as thick as thieves. My sister and I are eleven years apart, but we were incredibly close growing up. I am the younger of the two, so reading this story made me consider how it must have been to be in her shoes, dealing with the drama of high school while your sibling was barely in elementary school.

If you like Rubber Houses, I also recommend Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick and With You and Without You by Ann M. Martin.
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