Your House Will Pay: 'Elegant [and] suspenseful.' New York Times

Your House Will Pay: 'Elegant [and] suspenseful.' New York Times by Steph Cha

As seen:

By Steph Cha

avg rating

6 reviews

‘Moving, compelling, surprising, funny, explosive, and deeply human – an unforgettable novel.’ – Lou Berney, author of November Road

In 1991 Shawn, a young African-American teen, his sister Ava, and cousin Ray, set out across LA to a screening of New Jack City.


13 Feb 2020


It is difficult to rate this book because to give it four or five stars would not accurately reflect how I feel about it, but to knock it down to two or three stars would be unfair because that would devalue the story it tells, the issues raised. It's an important book and I'm glad to have read it.

My knowledge of LA's race riots, gang violence, interracial tensions and relationships, comes from newspaper headlines and media reports, so I value Steph Cha's insights into a troubled history that continues to affect real people's lives and prospects. However the way the book is written just didn't work for me. I found it clumsy and over-reliant on telling not showing. As a crime thriller it is too heavy on the issues at the expense of developing proper characters, with the exception of Shawn.

The novel reminds me of those 90 minute made-for-TV movies they used to show in the 80s dramatising real events, to inform and entertain. Difficult to pull off without coming over all Social Realist (in more recent times, Ken Loach manages to walk the line, for eg).

I can see from reviews here and in the media I'm in a minority. A page turner? Only in the sense I raced through just to get to the end and be done. I guessed who had done the shooting at its centre almost straight away, and there were some unlikely aspects I won't go into because of spoilers. Grace in particular just didn't come to life as other than a necessary construct.

For me the novel is too weighed down by the (very real) issues it covers. As fiction it falls short. Just my opinion, as a reader. As an insightful and thought provoking book covering important issues to do with racism, identity, generational guilt and family relationships OTOH, it works effectively therefore deserves praise and an audience. We need to come together in shared experience and understanding, regardless of whatever labels society uses to identify us. Yet I struggled to finish the novel.

09 Jan 2020


A fascinating book ,quite thought provoking ,a touching story of two families .

07 Jan 2020

Based on a true story, and set in LA, this powerful tale explores the impact of racism on both individuals and society. The story is based on two families of different cultures and tells how they have unknowingly become entwined together. It is a powerful and poignant read.

03 Jan 2020


i found this a stimulating and informative read.It's a multi layered story of racial tensions, family loyalties and the challenges of growing up in hard circumstances. There are two primary narrators which enable very different perspectives to be shared about the same situation. It's not an easy read due to the topic (guns, drugs,riots,racial intolerance ) but it is written well and the ending lends itself to more optimistic outlook than perhaps expected

30 Dec 2019


Really interesting novel based on an incident that happened in LA in the early nineties. I found it thought provoking that there was so much tension between the ethnic minorities in LA. The ending I thought clever, perhaps in their story justice had kind of prevailed and it was time for forgiveness on both sides.

17 Dec 2019

St Regulus AJ

An intense novel that I found an uncomfortable read. It is gritty and based on fact and I struggled through to the end. It shows how ethnic minorities have great trouble integrating and divisions remain for generations.

From the noticeboard