Last Updated on May 15, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 214
Julie's family has invited a Thai boy to come live with them for a school year. Julie is unhappy because the boy's letters and photograph make him seem to be a nerd, someone who would embarrass her at school, where she has worked hard to become popular. The boy who arrives is poised, a heavy smoker, and seemingly unimpressed by the luxuries he finds in Julie's home. Bia's good looks and composure promise to make him popular at school, and Julie the envy of her girlfriends, even if Bia does not speak English well. Then her younger brother Dominic builds a spirit house to set in the yard to make Bia feel more at home. A Thai spirit apparently comes to the new spirit house, and that spirit is turned loose in a culture that does not understand it. Then Julie's life begins to fall apart: her boyfriend drops her for one of her girlfriends, her friends want nothing to do with her, her hair becomes uncombable, her face breaks out in pimples, and her grades in school plummet. Furthermore, something is in The Spirit House and Julie feels powerfully drawn to it, but Thai spirits are very demanding and treacherous, and just what is Bia going to do with that long, sharp knife?