Study Guide

The Orange Houses Plot Analysis

By Paul Griffin

Plot Analysis


Hang in There

There's a lot of dark stuff going down in the opening pages of this book. Don't believe us? Try this: (1) We know someone gets hanged; (2) we learn about Jimmi's time overseas watching a little girl get blown up; (3) Fatima sneaks into the country illegally and has to find work under the radar; and (4) Mik is hearing-impaired and mocked at school. Yep, that's pretty dark. We get a bunch of problems in the beginning that we're hoping will resolve by the end of the book.

Rising Action

Paper Angels

Fatima makes paper angels for some kids at the VA hospital and gives one to Jimmi, which is the start of their friendship together. What's more important? It's also the beginning of Fatima's relationship with Mik. Together, these girls break down stereotypes and help one another come out of their shells—Fatima encourages Mik to get new hearing aids, and Mik allows Fatima to trust someone again. The book might start out dark, but with these friendships, everyone officially has something to lose.


Frightened Fatima

Things really pick up when Fatima goes with Mik and her family to get immigration papers and pave the way for her sister to come to America. At first, Fatima doesn't want to go, but Mik convinces her to let them help her out, and Fatima finally accepts. The only catch is that Fatima has to stay on the DL until her papers come through. We know as soon as the immigration guy warns her to stay out of trouble that something's bound to go wrong.

It's just like when our moms warn us not to eat the last cookie. We just know that somehow, we're going to end up with a few crumbs on our shirt and an empty plate in our hand. Except, you know, higher stakes.

Falling Action

A Girl on a Mission

The falling action heads our way when Jimmi stands up for Mik and the mob attacks him. Fatima comes to his rescue, and the hanging is over before we know what hit us. The pace of this section picks up so we go through it pretty quickly with our hearts pounding in our chests—and they skip a beat when an immigration officer comes and arrests Fatima. It turns out morals and guts mean nothing when it comes to where you get to live, and she's taken to the detention center, ready for deportation.


No Lady Liberty

In the end, Fatima is sent back to Africa without ever seeing the Statue of Liberty up close (unless you count from the plane on the trip back home). Mik is down in the dumps over losing her friend, but she finally decides to use her new hearing aids. They're not the most comfortable, but she's sure she'll get used to them. 

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