Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michael Knight

Committee Members

Allen Wier, Margaret Lazarus Dean, Thomas Turner


In A House Made of Stars, a coming-of-age story set in a small community in the San Bernardino Mountains ofSouthern California, a young girl and her family endeavor to start their lives anew after being uprooted from their home. Plagued with poverty, they attempt unusual and, at times, unscrupulous ways of making money including setting up a trash can business, going on scavenger hunts around the neighborhood for food, stealing from the church kitchen, and finally, soliciting donations for a fake deaf charity. However, the girl soon discovers that her family's difficulties stem not from outside factors, but from within their own household--from an abusive father and a mother who covers up all these things at the cost of her family's happiness and safety. The girl and her sister are also deaf to varying degrees and are forbidden to sign, but in time, struggle not only in learning how to grow up, but also in finding their voices and learning to speak for themselves and their family.

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