The House on the Gulf

By Margaret Peterson Haddix


Bran, Brittany and their mom all lived together but they were very poor. Mom was trying to get a scholarship to a college university to be a doctor. So when Bran announced that he got a job to house sit for the entire summer in Florida, the whole family was so excited because they will be paid to live in someone else's house! That means that they will have enough money for all the expenses they have needed to pay. The couple that Bran is house sitting for is a retired couple and they are going on vacation to New York for the whole summer. Bran and the family started packing up all their belongings and moved into the Marquises house. When they got all settled, Bran was acting different, he wasn’t letting the family use the air conditioner, he didn’t let them use the Marquise’s silverware, he moved all of the Marquise’s belongings and put them in boxes and stored them in the shed and he put a lock on the shed. One day a letter came in the mail and Britt looked at it before Bran did and it was to the Marquise’s, only it wasn’t’ spelled like that, it was spelled like “Marcus”. Britt asked Bran about it and he said it was just a spelling error. Britt tried to talk to mom about how strange Bran was acting, but mom just got mad at Britt because mom was trying to study so she could get that scholarship. So they kept on living through the summer and Bran kept acting strange. Britt got a job running errands for the neighbors and she met a really nice lady named Mrs. Stuldy. Mrs. Stuldy would always bake yummy things and whenever Britt would go over to her house, Stuldy would give her food and Britt and her would just chat. One time Britt was doing Bran’s laundry and she felt something in the pocket of his jeans that she was washing. She pulled it out and it was a key, the key to his closet where he had put all of those precious boxes. Bran was at work so now was her chance to find out what was in those boxes. She tiptoed to his room and she unlocked the closet. She quickly dug through the first box but all she could find was really old things from the Marquis’s and a lot of old pictures of the Marquis family. She kept looking through the boxes but never found any clues. Then she heard someone come in through the front door, it was Bran. He was walking towards his room and was calling for Britt. She quietly shut the closet door and didn’t make a sound, after Bran left his room, she came out of the closet, and she didn’t lock the door because she wanted to go in there another time to look for more clues, and then made it look like she had just came out of the bathroom, then she gave Bran the keys and she told him that he had left them in his pants. Bran left for work again now that he had his keys, and Britt went back into the closet. Then she found a paper, it was about mom’s grades, and it had her maiden name on it! Which was Marcus, Britt was so confused and she realized that the “Marquise’s were really the Marcus’s. When Bran got home from work Britt showed him the paper and told him to explain. Bran tried to cover it up at first but finally he explained that Mom was disowned as a child, and she ran away with her now x-husband. Her parent’s names were John and Mary Marcus, and that’s whose house they are in now. The Marcus’s don’t know that they are in their house, Bran was just supposed to mow their lawn for the summer, not stay in their house, he faked not knowing that he was their grandchild and they didn’t know he was their grandchild because they had never met him. He decided to live in the house because he knew it would solve a lot of problems and he wanted to help Mom out. Britt was shocked at all of this new information. She could barely hold it in. But she did and she tried to forget about how guilty she felt for living in someone’s house, her grandparent’s house, illegally. One day when Britt was chatting with Mrs. Stuldy, she told Britt that she saw in the newspaper that Mr. Marcus had died! Britt quickly went to go tell Bran the news but he didn’t care and he said that makes it better because then Mrs. Marcus won’t come back for longer because she will be too busy grieving and making funeral arrangements. Britt was sad that she had never met her grandfather before he died and that mom never made up with him before he died. But she had to keep living through the summer. Finally her mom was done with her classes and mom could relax! So they decided to go to the beach. When they were getting ready to go to the beach, they heard the front door open, and an old lady walked in, Britt recognized her from all the pictures that were in Bran’s closet. It was Mrs. Marcus. Mrs. Marcus started screaming and told mom and britt to get out! Britt was trying to explain that Mom was Mrs. Marcus’s daughter but neither mom or Mrs. Marcus had no clue what Britt was talking about! Marcus ran out of the house and threatened to call the police. Then Britt called Bran and told him to come home right away! So when Bran came mom asked them to explain. So Bran explained everything. When he was finished, mom whispered, “You got the wrong Marcus’s.” Britt and Bran were so confused and mom told them that when she was young a family had the same name as her parents, John and Mary Marcus. So they really had been living in a stranger’s house the whole summer. Then Britt went to talk to Mrs. Stuldy and Mrs. Marcus was in there too. Britt, Bran and Mom all explained to Mrs. Marcus what had happened and after a long time of thinking, Marcus decided to let it go without talking to the police. Mrs. Stuldy let Bran, Britt and Mom stay with her until mom got a job. And it all turned out okay.

What did I enjoy about the Book?

* I enjoyed all of the different plot twists in this book. You never knew what was going to happen next.

* It kept you guessing what was going to happen and the book made you want to try and solve the mystery yourself.

* It was a fun read and kept you from wanting to put the book down.

Which characters play important roles that relate to the overall theme?

* Britt is the main character in this book and she is the one trying to solve the mystery. Bran was another main character and he is the one who caused all of the problems. So they relate to the theme because bran and britt were not honest and the theme is honesty is the best policy.

What was the tone of the book? How was the tone communicated?

*I think the tone of the book is very thoughtful. It makes you feel on edge and you think a lot throughout the book about what is going to happen next. The tone is communicated by how the author puts lots of plot twits in the book.

Why would you recommend this book?

* I would recommend this book because it is very interesting and sometimes makes you feel like a detective. It was always fun picking up this book and finding out new clues and information every sentence you would read. It kept me wanting to read it and made you want to know what was going to happen next.