The Ha-Ha Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Ha-Ha

Howard is a Vietnam Veteran living in the house he inherited from his parents living with an unusual group of roommates. His roommates include a Texas-raised Vietnamese woman who runs a catering business and two young house painters. Howard suffered an injury in the war and although he is of normal intelligence, can no longer speak or write and communicates through gestures and noises. Howard has withdrawn from society except for the nuns at the convent where he mows the lawn and his group of roommates.
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Sylvia, his high school girlfriend asks him to care for her nine year old son Ryan while she goes to a nearby drug rehab center. Howie is initially overwhelmed by the responsibility but begins to open up to the role of being a father figure. He even takes part in activities such as making breakfast, attending choir concerts and signing Ryan up for little league. Ryan's eight week stay with Howie brings Howie and his housemates closer together. As the time for Sylvia to return comes closer, Howie dreads her returning because he can barely remember life before Ryan. When Sylvia returns, what results is Howie's struggle with facing a life of his own once again.
The review of this Book prepared by Sarah Polace

Little, Brown, Jan 2005, 23.95
ISBN: 0316156108

Three decades ago while on his first month of duty in Viet Nam, Howard Kapostash suffered a head injury that devastated his communication abilities. Though his intelligence remained average, he no longer could speak, nor write or read. His emotional quotient was already lagging before the trauma and over the subsequent thirty years since has not developed. Howard shares his childhood home with Vietnamese-American Laurel, who makes specialty soups for local restaurants; and Steve and Harrison, two housepainters he calls to himself Nit and Nat.

Sylvia dumps her reticent nine-year-old child Ryan on Howard to take care of him while she is away, though he has no experience with children. This dysfunctional commune soon comes together as the four adults responsibly and lovingly rally for the child. As the quartet learn about what life is all about, Sylvia will return soon and take away their catalyst, but will each one slip back to indifference and irresponsibility?

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of The Ha-Ha

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Pregnancy/Child rearing    -   Yes Major part of story:    -   unexpected child appears Brain/Body disability?    -   mental illness

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed    -   blue collar Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   2 () United States    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Dave King Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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