Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 483
One night, a little boy named Jamie awakens to see the man who lives with them, Van, take his baby sister, Nin, and throw her across the room. Fortunately, his mother steps up in time to catch the little baby. That's when Jamie's life begins to change drastically. While he...
(The entire section contains 483 words.)
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- Teaching Guide
One night, a little boy named Jamie awakens to see the man who lives with them, Van, take his baby sister, Nin, and throw her across the room. Fortunately, his mother steps up in time to catch the little baby. That's when Jamie's life begins to change drastically. While he is still numb from the shock, his mother packs a few things and they leave the house, never to return. Mom has a good friend, Earl, and he takes them in without questions, in the middle of the night.
All these violent and scary events are seen through the eyes of a young boy whose life will never be quite the same. Jamie quickly loses the security of his daily routine and struggles to understand the events in his new life.
He felt nervous getting dressed, in some sort of a hurry, but for no reason. He fought with his T-shirt, trying to get his arms and head through. His mother was lying on the couch, watching. "Slow down," she told him. "We have the whole day."
But to Jamie, something is not right.
He stepped outside into the bright sun, clear cold air, a gorgeous day, so bright it knocked him back. He wasn't ready for it. It made his eyes ache. His eyes? His head. His heart. Something about him, the brightness of the day was overwhelming; it gobbled up everything inside itself—everything that had come before and everything that might come next.
Instead of going to school as always, he is staying home while he and his mom are getting settled in a trailer that belongs to Earl, way out of town, among trees and mountains. Earl seems not to be very happy that they are by themselves and mentions that they will be "sitting ducks," but Patty, Jamie's mother, thinks it will be a good place for them to stay. To Jamie, it feels safe because of the trailer's snugness and smallness (that is, not enough room to throw a baby). It seems to protect him from what happened before. "Mostly Jamie did not think about Van. Van wasn't there. They were there—Nin and his mother and himself— and the trailer fit them just right." Yet again and again, Jamie and Patty are reminded of that terrible night. At a school fair, Patty suddenly thinks she sees Van and panics. Only it is not Van. And that is when the fear starts. Patty is not the same, and Jamie, too, feels a rage he cannot control. His mother realizes what is happening. "Oh God, Jamie", she said, "we're afraid— just sick with fear. And it's so settled within us that we don't even know what living feels like without it." For the next few months, it is this fear that will come to dominate Patty's and Jamie's life until they hardly dare to leave their trailer anymore.