Study Guide

The Orange Houses Chapter 1

By Paul Griffin

Chapter 1

TAMIKA

  • In a Bronx high school, twenty-seven days before the hanging, Tamika is asked to spell taphophobia in a spelling bee. Um, okay.
  • When Tamika was five, she contracted meningitis and lost most of her hearing, so now she uses hearing aids.
  • Except when she doesn't want to hear. Tamika likes blocking out the world by turning them off—that way she doesn't have to hear the screeches and screaming of the city.
  • Tamika was up late last night drawing. It's the way she escapes from the real world.
  • Back at the spelling bee, she writes the word taphophobia, fear of being burned alive on the chalkboard after watching her teacher's mouth when she said it.
  • At lunch, Tamika, or Mik as her friends call her, rushes to her place under the stairs. Too bad some kid who calls himself "The G" is there already.
  • He's a loser (according to Mik), but she likes him anyway; she's got a thing for him.The G asks her to do his homework, and she agrees—for a fee. She tries to help people out by taking on homework assignments and stuff, but she doesn't work for free.
  • She asks for three bucks, but she takes one and some change since that's all he has, and then they arrange the details of the drop off for when she's done with the work.
  • Then the G tells her she's beautiful, and she calls him "blind." He runs off, and she gets to work on his homework. It's a piece of cake… For her