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House of Roaches

Charity Miller is a teenage girl who experiences many changes in her life at a young age. Charity lives in poverty, as evidenced by the roach-infested house her family resides in out of financial necessity. The main character undergoes a transformation in thought and actions as she struggles with her identity and sense of belonging in a house that doesn’t feel like a home and a new school that seems like a foreign land. Amidst those changes, she enlists in a power struggle with the tiny creatures in her house.

The roaches in the novel, as unsanitary and grotesque of characters as they may seem, are key in moving the main character from a place of darkness to one of enlightenment and growth. In the beginning of this novel, the main character enjoys her nightly par with these creatures of the night. They are both foe and friend in her battle to find her own truth. She admires, is almost envious, of their spirit of perseverance - or what she forced herself to believe was perseverance.

Alas, Charity sees what living in the shadows can do to her loved ones. She deals with a family tragedy and the uncovering of secrets that, like cold water in her face on an already frigid day, awakens her to the multitude of possibilities that exists outside the limitations of fear.

Poverty is real. We must not be afraid to see it for what it is. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to define our present, past, or future. The House of Roaches beckons the reader to open the pages of one girl’s reality that symbolically reaches beyond the limitations of socioeconomic status and race. It is the search for one’s place and identity.

--Sheila Kearney Freeman

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