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House Arrest

House Arrest

House Arrest

4.5/5 (28 ratings)
260 pages
1 hour
Oct 6, 2015


From Scribd: About the Book

At the age of twelve, Timothy is already familiar with the unfairness of the world. Award-winning author and poet K.A. Holt draws the reader in with a witty, engaging story written in free verse.

Timothy is placed on probation after impulsively stealing a wallet. Crazy, right? He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. His family needed the money. It’s the system that’s broken, not him. So why does he have to spend a whole year going to weekly sessions with a probation officer and a therapist? During his house arrest, he also has to reflect on his criminal activity in a court-ordered journal, into which he pours all his thoughts, fears, and frustrations. House Arrest follows Timothy’s struggles to stay out of trouble as desperation breeds danger and he is forced to take drastic measures to help his struggling family.

Alternating between touching and playful, but always original, House Arrest is a middle grade novel in verse about one boy's path to redemption. The reader cannot help but empathize as Timothy navigates his captivity with a sick brother, a grieving mother, and one tough probation officer.

Oct 6, 2015

About the author

K.A. Holt is the author of Rhyme Schemer, House Arrest, Knockout, and Redwood and Ponytail, along with several other books for young people. She lives in Austin, Texas, and is active within the vibrant Texas writing community.

Book Preview

House Arrest - K. A. Holt



Boys don’t write in journals,

unless it’s court-ordered.

At least, this is what I’ve figured.


I have

I have nothing

to say.

I am not allowed to have nothing to say.

Except on Tuesdays

when I go see Mrs. Bainbridge

who calls me Tim instead of Timothy.

I sit on her squishy couch

my mouth sealed shut

my eyes burning holes

in the leaves of all her plants.

She says I can call her Maureen.

But who would want to be called Maureen?

Adjudicated delinquent.

I had to look up how to spell that.

Three times.

I don’t feel like a delinquent

and I don’t know what adjudicated means

(even after looking it up).

Sounds like a kung fu move.

I adjudicated you in your face!


A whole year of this journal?

Maybe I will write about the other people I see.

Like José . . . just being José.

I will pretend his life is mine,

like I can still go hang out in our street

whenever I want.

Magnolia Circle. Where I’ve always lived.

With the manhole cover

that makes a perfect third base.


How do you let yourself

become a probation officer?

Is there a school for that?

A diploma?

Congrats, James, you have graduated

and are now

a complete


James recommends

not writing any more things

like that last thing.


the judge will get mad.

Who knew my probation officer

could read my journal?

I would like it on record that that isn’t fair.

Do you hear me, James?

Do you hear me, Mrs. Bainbridge?

Do you hear me, Judge?

A personal journal is very crowded

with so many eyes.

James on Monday.

Mrs. Bainbridge on Tuesday.

School every day.

Home every day.

Nowhere else unless Mom is with me.

That’s the schedule, Journal.

Got it?

It’s pretty simple.

Like a court-ordered cage,

with a Mom-shaped lock.

You better take this journal seriously,

James told me Monday.

Or they’ll throw you in juvie

so fast

your head will spin.

As if my head isn’t already spinning.

On that day, weeks ago, I’d lost my head.

Everything foggy and frosty,

everything a dwarf name

from a fairy tale

that doesn’t exist.

I remember I was so tired.





Levi had been sick the night before.

One of those nights with no nurse at home to help.

Mom had her hands full.

And I did, too.

Levi was bad sick.

So I helped.

Running for towels,

for meds,

for the heavy oxygen tanks,

for the suction machine,

for the spare trach tubes,

for the ties to keep the tube in his neck

so he could breathe

which he wasn’t doing very well

that night

before the morning

when my head was full of fairy-tale dwarves

named Foggy and Frosty and Sleepy and Crazy.

I will never know what I was thinking when I stole that wallet,

because I wasn’t thinking.

I wish everyone would stop asking.

There is no what

when there is no thinking.

There is just is-ing.

Things happen.

Things happened.

Just like that.


It is what it is.

It was what it was.

So stop asking.

I was trying to help,

that’s all.

But it was the opposite of help,

and I know that now.

I’m not sorry, though.

If you’re wondering.

I’m just sorry I got caught.

Because it would have helped.

It would have.


James says I should take that last part out.

You better be sorry, he says

when he throws this journal into my chest

looking mad and disappointed.

A look they must give tests on

at Probation Officer University.

This is not a joke, Timothy.

They’ll throw you in juvie so fast

your head will spin.

I mouth the words when he says them.

He doesn’t like that.

But he needs new words.

He won’t like it that I wrote that, either.

Oh, well.

Hey, James?

Suck it.

When Levi was born my dad was still here.

Nine months ago.

Feels like nine years.

Dad’s heart was beating in the same room as mine.

His lungs filled with the same air as mine.

His stomach filled with the same pizza as mine.

We had pepperoni that night

when Levi was born.

We high-fived our root beers.

Dad told the waitress,

I have two boys now. How about that?

And she gave us ice cream

for free.

And it was the best night.

Until it wasn’t anymore.

Then the phone rang in the pitch-dark night

and José’s mom answered because I was at their house.

Dad was at the hospital with Mom and Levi.

José’s mom came to wake me up

but I was already awake.

And she drove me to the hospital

and she told me Levi was sick

and the doctors didn’t know what it was

and it was bad

real bad

and they wanted me there

in case he died

so I could say good-bye

and none of it made sense

because Levi was a brand-new baby

and nothing happens to brand-new babies

because they are new and haven’t hurt anyone yet.

And Dad still had pizza in his stomach

and so did I

from earlier that night

when everything was OK.

P.S. Levi did not die.

Not any time they told us he would.

And there were a lot of times.


Mrs. B.

I know you’re reading, so listen up.

I’m thinking you guys don’t know anything

about anything.

No offense.

But if you’re going to understand what I’m

talking about

in this dumb journal

I’m going to need to explain some things

to your dumb faces.

No offense.

There are just so many things you have to understand

before you can really understand.


So I can tell you about that day

that stealing day

but you’re never going to know

what was going on in my head

because I don’t know what was going on in my head

all I do know is what was going on in my life.

Lesson One: trach.

You say it like trake

in case you didn’t know.

It’s a plastic tube

in Levi’s neck.

Well, in a hole in Levi’s neck,

a hole the doctor put there

so Levi can breathe.

The tube protects the hole

but it lets in a lot of germs

like a superhighway to his lungs,

so that’s no good.

But breathing is good.

Kind of a lame trade-off, if you ask me.

I guess the trach is like a plastic nostril

in Levi’s neck.

It has all the gross stuff that nostrils have:

slippery boogers

and slime

and gunk

and when he sneezes, these snot bullets shoot out.

So, yeah. It’s a plastic nostril in your neck.

But it doesn’t look like a nostril. Just a tube.

It saved Levi’s life

and changed everyone else’s.

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like

to breathe through your neck

instead of your face.

How does food taste

if you can’t smell it?

Do your sinuses still hurt

when you’re sick?

Does it tickle when you cough

out of the tube?

Does it feel weird when you swallow?

It must.

Because Levi chokes a lot.

When he chokes we use the suction machine

and it is so loud

like a jackhammer drinking a Slurpee.

It sucks all of the gunk out of the tube in his neck

so Levi can breathe easy again.

He always looks so relieved.

I wonder how that feels?

José came over today.

He called me a felon

and laughed his head off.

He wanted me to come with him.

Cam’s paintball party.

My answer:

What part of house arrest don’t you understand,


I told him I was getting a tracking device on my ankle

and if I leave the house

it will blow my whole leg off.

Even messier than paintball.

He believed me

so I laughed my head off.


James says I need to talk more about that day.

Your journal, he says,

in that eye-rolly way they must teach at

Probation Officer University,

is to prove you are reflecting on what you did,

to prove house arrest is working,

to prove you don’t need juvie to set you straight.

It is court-ordered, Timothy.

You know what that means, right?

And that’s when I shout,

I’m doing it, right?

I’m writing in it, OK?

He nods and looks kind of bored.

And I wonder, again, how this ever happened.

There are a lot of things I know

that I shouldn’t know

about why things are the way they are.

About Dad driving away and never coming back.

About his job he never went back to.

About Mom working nights for extra money.

About food coming from the church on the corner.

About Levi’s medicine costing as much

as a pet space shuttle.

I know.

But I don’t say I know.

But Mom knows I know.

Because she knows everything.

Except whether or not Dad is ever coming back.

No one knows that.

Well, maybe Dad does.

A year is a long time

to write in

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What people think about House Arrest

28 ratings / 25 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    I seldom give 5-star reviews. To earn it, the book has to be one that I know will resonate in my mind long after I have turned the last page. House Arrest, the first novel-in-verse I have read, is one of those books. It is written as a year-long journal by a 12-year-old boy assigned by a judge for a crime he committed. Treader is taken on an intimate journey through feelings of abandonment, grief, love, and loyalty. It's a quick read and one you just won't want to put down.
  • (5/5)
    I adored this freestyle young adult book. Timothy is on house arrest for a year. A whole year! All because he stole a wallet and used a credit card he found in it. And yes, stealing is bad. But is it so bad when you're stealing to help your baby brother? His brother is only a baby and already has a slew of problems; he has a trach in his neck and TONS of medical problems he needs a lot of help. Their dad walked out on them about a year ago so Timothy thought he was helping their mom out; their strapped for cash and the medical bills keep mounting. But now he's on house arrest and he has to keep a stupid journal to record his "feelings." Yeah he's feeling pretty annoyed. And angry. Angry at his stupid dad that left his mom to deal with his brother's medical problems. Angry that his stupid probation officer is always asking questions. Angry that his best friend complains about his dad who is clearly awesome. Timothy is angry at just about everything and everyone. Everyone except his cute lil' brother, Levi. Timothy would steal all the wallets in the world to keep Levi safe. Heart-wrenching and powerful. I couldn't put this book down.
  • (4/5)
    This is great free-verse prose for middle school and reluctant high school students. I currently have quite a few students on probation that could relate to the first-person narrator voice of this book. I do think the voice sounds older than the actual age of the character, but Timothy has had to grow up quickly due to taking on the whole of his dad, when his dad unexpectedly leaves the family and his baby brother requires a lot of care and has many medical needs. Overall, a great book to pass onto my students.
  • (4/5)
    A great nominee for Nebraska's Golden Sower. A quick read, but full of a teenager's thoughts.
  • (5/5)
    Almost universally, when I come across books written in verse, I don't even consider them. Had I known K.A. Holt's wonderful Young Adult novel "House Arrest" was written in verse, I never would have requested it through LT ER. (I'm so glad I was blissfully ignorant!) Upon receiving the book in the mail, I despaired the lack of prose and set it aside. My 13-year-old daughter read it before me, and when I found her blubbering over it, I thought: huh. So, I picked it up and read it in one delighted sitting. I'm still not a fan of books written in verse (my sensory personality objects to the "not enough bang for my buck" aspect of such novels: too few words on each page) but I'm so glad this one found me.Holt's story is not just in verse; it's also epistolary in the sense that it is the journal of the book's protagonist, Timothy. Thirteen-year-old Timothy is under house arrest for a year, having been found guilty of a serious criminal offense. At the outset, we find Timothy antagonistic to his parole officer and his therapist, and is clearly irritated by the requirement that he make daily journal entries that will be read by all above. But what unfolds is WHY Timothy did what he did. And as his entries progress, the reader gets to see a softer side to Timothy, watch his gradual maturation, and witness deepening bonds between Timothy and those in his social circle.This is a lovely, hopeful book. I recommend it to one and all. It doesn't seem to be very well known, but it should be. Go buy a copy or two and pass them around. There are lessons of love, friendship, and redemption for everyone. I passed my copy to my older daughter for consideration to include in a DDF (Drama, Debate & Forensics) piece she is putting together for a national competition this summer. She loved "House Arrest" too, and in fact will be using it in her piece, whose theme is "Breathing". I'm so so glad I read this book. It's a keeper.
  • (4/5)
    Twelve year-old Timothy has been placed under house arrest for stealing a credit card and making almost $1500 in charges on it. The items bought aren't what you would expect a kid in poverty, without quite enough food and shoes that don't fit, to buy. Timothy has purchased medication for his infant brother who needs constant care. As part of his rehabilitation, Timothy writes a journal (in verse) that is this book detailing the struggles of a boy, his single mother, and a part-time nurse in caring for a medically needy child. How much help is enough and how much is too much?