Margin Notes

Guest Writer Wendy Carlisle Recommends House Arrest by K.A. Holt


House Arrest by K.A. Holt is written in free verse poetry form which makes it an easy read for students; however, it does not take away from the powerful message of family responsibility and the will of one boy, Timothy, to take care of his sick baby brother and his mother. Timothy finds out sometimes doing the wrong thing can be the right thing to do, even if it has consequences.

Twelve-year-old Timothy is under house arrest for stealing a wallet and charging his baby brother’s medication on it. He is assigned a probation officer, James, and a court-appointed psychologist, Mrs. B., whom he talks to in the journal he must write for the whole year he is on probation. Through this journal, Timothy talks through his helplessness of having a sick baby in the house and the frustration and anger he feels for his dad who up and left their family after his brother, Levi, was born and needed a trach to breathe. Legally or not, Timothy already feels like he is under house arrest. Not having enough money for 24/7 nursing care and no father around to help, Timothy must step up to help his mother.

Timothy feels that they are too proud to accept help from charity until he finds a solution to cure his brother. He relentlessly writes letters to the doctor who can help his brother and the push is on when a new nurse encourages Timothy’s mother to put Levi in a long-term care facility. He is desperate to try to keep his family together and when relief is finally in sight, Timothy must once again break the law to save his baby brother.

I highly recommend this book as it is written in a way that students would find easy enough to read but powerful enough to make them think and reflect. Some students will be able to relate to the main character with his relationships with his family members and friends and trying to figure out his feelings.

In the acknowledgements, K.A. Holt reveals, she has had first-hand experience with a son who lived with a trach and successfully had his trachea reconstructed.


Wendy Carlisle teaches grade 7 at Ridgeview Middle School in Oromocto.  When she is not busy chasing after her two daughters, Peyton and Kassidy, she can often be found reading or watching General Hospital.


House Arrest by K.A. Holt


In this wonderful novel, we meet Timothy, a young man who is currently on one year house arrest for stealing a credit card.  Part of his probation requirements is that he has to write in a journal (which is the book) to show his remorse to the courts.   Timothy begrudgingly writes and starts to open up and tell his story causing the reader to quickly realize there is more to him than being a young offender.  As his story unfolds, we discover he stole the card to pay for his baby brother’s medication.  House Arrest takes the reader on an emotional journey as we experience what it is like for the working poor to try to survive and we are reminded how important it is to care and trust one another.

Timothy experiences what many of our students live out daily-having adult responsibilities and worries while they are still a child.  As teachers, it is important for us to remember that there are kids like Timothy sitting right in front of us.  Students will find his story fascinating (more…)