Haddix, Margaret Peterson. (2004). The House on the Gulf. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Textbook Chapter: 6
Possible Curriculum Connections: Mystery genre study; Author study of Margaret Peterson Haddix
This novel begins with Britt (short for Brittany), Bran (short for Brandon), and their mother moving into a new house for the summer. The family had moved to Florida so that the mother could go to college and earn a scholarship for single mothers. The three always struggled to survive, which left sixteen year old Bran to get two jobs, one at a restaurant, and one housesitting for the Marquis family. The three moved into the Marquis house for the summer, where they were living rent free. Things were finally starting to look up for them! However, as soon as they move in, the always responsible Bran starts acting strangely, and Britt catches him in several lies. Their mother is too busy and distracted to notice, but Britt is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Britt discovers that the family they are housesitting for is really the Marcus family, she begins to piece everything together. Marcus is her mother's maiden name, and Bran reveals that they are living in what he thinks is their grandparents' house. However, the trio is estranged from the Marcus family, so Bran doesn't want his mom to find out. In the end, it is not even their grandparents, as Bran had found the wrong Marcus family, and they almost get arrested for trespassing. However, everything worked out and the family was basically adopted by an elderly neighbor who had become friends with Britt.
Personal Reaction/ Why Teens Would Want to Read this Book:
I liked this book, but I did not love it! I thought there would be a little more suspense or mystery, but it was actually pretty predictable. I have read some novels by Haddix and really liked them, but this one was slightly disappointing. With that being said, it was an easy read and not unenjoyable. The story was intriguing, especially in the beginning, and it had a happy ending. I like stories where everything comes together. :-) I think teens would like to read this book because of the mystery aspect to the story. Although it was predictable, it was still fun to try to figure out what would happen next! Also, the main characters are both young adults, so teenagers may be able to put themselves in the character's shoes. The theme of finding one's identity is also present in the novel, which many teens can relate to. Overall, I would recommend this book to a young adult.