There’s Someone Inside Your House explores the stereotypical teenage experience of feeling different and misunderstood. Even though it’s been almost a year since she moved to Nebraska, Makani struggles to fit in with her peers at Osborne High. Her best friends, Darby and Alex, have known each other since childhood. Although they don’t intentionally make Makani feel like a third wheel, it’s difficult for Makani not to feel left out when they reference inside jokes and rumors that only longtime residents of Osborne would know about. Because Makani has spent most of her life in Hawaii, she hasn’t shared many of the experiences that Darby and Alex have had, which has a distancing effect on their friendship. Makani’s racial identity also contributes to her alienation. Osborne is a rural farming community in Nebraska, and most of its residents are white. Makani, in contrast, is biracial: Makani’s mother is African American, and Makani’s father is Native Hawaiian. Makani’s racial background sets her apart from her peers and invites unwanted, probing questions about her heritage. For instance, when Makani first moved to Osborne, Lauren, a fellow high school student, asked Makani, “What are you?” When Makani told her the truth, Lauren deemed her “a mutt,” oblivious to the hurt her attempt at a joke created in Makani. Makani’s friend Darby also understands the struggle of alienation and “the concept of otherness.” Darby identifies as male but was assigned female at birth. When Darby transitioned socially during his first year of high school, his gender identity attracted a great deal of negative attention. Even in his senior year of high school, he still receives subtle signs of disapproval from his peers. There’s Someone Inside Your House presents a cast of characters who, despite their unique identities and backgrounds, share a similar experience of feeling left out and misunderstood by their peers. In this way, There’s Someone Inside Your House portrays alienation and loneliness as fundamental parts of the human experience.
Alienation Quotes in There’s Someone Inside Your House
“This is Osborne, Nebraska.” Her friend Darby sucked up the last drops of his gas station iced coffee. “Population: twenty-six hundred. A boy with pink hair is as scandalous as the death of a beloved student.”
Makani knew better than to believe any of them outright. Rumors, even the true ones, never told a complete story. She avoided most of her classmates for that very reason. Self-preservation.
As usual, there was no word from back home. At least the messages of hate had long stopped. No one there was looking for her, and the only people who still cared about it—the incident, as she self-censored that night on the beach—were people like Jasmine. The only people who mattered. Makani would have never guessed that her friends’ permanent silence would be infinitely more painful than those weeks when thousands of uninformed, condescending, misogynistic strangers had spewed vitriol at her. It was.
It had been so long since Makani had felt any amount of genuine, unadulterated happiness that she’d forgotten that sometimes it could hurt as much as sadness. His declaration pierced through the muscle of her heart like a skillfully thrown knife. It was the kind of pain that made her feel alive.
Meanwhile, Makani pretended to be upset for the same reasons as her classmates. She pretended that the local news van, parked near the flag at half-mast, hadn’t broken her into a sweat. She pretended that she was cold when she put up the hood of her hoodie and angled her face away from the cameras. She pretended to belong.
The dry tassels reached for the open sky while the dead silks pointed down to the muddy earth. Slowly, ever so slowly, the wind strengthened and changed course, and the fields swayed as a single element, rippling outward in a current of mesmerizing waves. Something hidden inside Makani lifted its head and blossomed. The sensation was sublime. Makani often complained that she was drowning in corn, but she wasn’t gasping below the water. She was perched on the edge of the horizon.
Makani was grateful that she didn’t believe in ghosts; she only believed in the ghostlike quality of painful memories. And she was sure this house had plenty.
He checked his favorite message board, but the usual torch-and-pitchfork crowd were still up in arms over this new company of video game developers that was run entirely by women. His insides shrank with a familiar shame as he quickly left the page. Not that long ago, he’d been one of them.
Social boundaries were being crossed everywhere. Students still ate with their own kind, but each group sat a little closer to the other groups, and they weaved in and out of one another’s conversations. They were all talking about the same thing, anyway. It was sad that people only got along when everybody was unhappy.
The summer clothes were her old clothes. In Hawaii, the warmest items she’d needed were jeans and a hoodie. Here, she’d had to ask her grandmother to buy her a coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and sweaters. They’d made a special trip to a mall in Omaha, and she’d selected everything in black. She couldn’t explain why except that when she wore it, she felt a bit more protected. A bit more hardened.
The serial killers in her imagination, the fictional centerpieces of innumerable movies and television shows, were colorful and fascinating and impossible to keep her eyes off of. But her eyes had always glossed over David. Who do you think did it? She’d looked past him, even when he’d asked her. She’d looked past him, even when he’d been sitting right in front of her.
Makani slept long hours and stirred aimlessly through her house. The barrage was endless. Immeasurable. Sometimes it hurt because everyone had the wrong idea about her, but usually it hurt because it felt like they had it right.
Darby stepped in front of Alex to block her from Makani’s view. “You’re right. But I know what it’s like to be angry—to think that everyone has it easier than you. Or that everyone is against you. And if you don’t deal with those feelings, they don’t go away on their own. They keep building and building until they force their way out.”
Ollie stopped. His expression was serious. He waited to speak until she stopped, too. “Everybody has at least one moment they deeply regret, but that one moment . . . it doesn’t define all of you.”
David didn’t know her, but Makani knew herself. And neither of them was a monster. She was a human who had made a terrible mistake. He was a human who had planned his terrible actions.
Running away from home didn’t change the fact that a person still had to live with themselves. Makani had learned this, though perhaps her mother never had. Change came from within, over a long period of time, and with a lot of help from people who loved you. Osborne wasn’t David’s problem. For Makani, Osborne had even been restorative. Being a psychopath was David’s problem. David was David’s problem.