Study Guide

The Orange Houses Writing Style

By Paul Griffin

Writing Style

Straightforward and Poetic

It might seem like a contradiction to say someone's style is straightforward and poetic. After all, isn't the whole point of poetry to give an abundance of description and detail? Well, not exactly. Check out this description of Fatima and Mik walking home together:

Laughing arm in arm they skipped the strip across from the O Houses. The strip's lights airbrushed the night red and green. (22.2)

Notice how the lights take on human action (a.k.a. personification) by airbrushing the sky? We know that lights aren't actually getting out their spray brushes, but it's a totally poetic way of describing what's happening. Plus, it gives us a mental image so we know what the street looks like to the girls.

Yet there are other times where Griffin ditches the poetry for a more straightforward style. Take his intro to Jimmi, for example:

Jimmi's story: no Pops, his Moms a slave to the pipe. She put Jimmi in and out of foster care. (4.3)

This is as straightforward as it gets—there's no room for confusion about Jimmi's background, and we feel as though Griffin is talking directly to us, just like our friends would. This mix of straightforward sentences and more poetic ones that flows through the story keeps us interested, blending a mix of straight-up facts with evocative descriptions to help us both keep a firm grasp on what's going on, while also having a real feel for our characters and their experiences. 

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