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Make lemonade
Virginia Euwer Wolff
Teen Fiction WOLFF

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Poetry is everywhere, as Wolff ( The Mozart Season ) proves by fashioning her novel with meltingly lyric blank verse in the voice of an inner-city 14-year-old. As LaVaughn tells it, ``This word COLLEGE is in my house, / and you have to walk around it in the rooms / like furniture.'' A paying job will be her ticket out of the housing projects, so she agrees to baby-sit the two children of unwed Jolly, 17, in an apartment so wretched ``even the roaches are driven up the wall.'' Jolly is fired from her factory job and her already dire situation gets worse. Through her ``Steam'' (aka self-esteem) class, LaVaughn decides that it isn't honorable to use Jolly's money to prevent herself becoming like Jolly, so she watches the kids for free while Jolly looks for work. But there are few opportunities for a nearly illiterate dropout, and LaVaughn sees that her unpaid baby-sitting is a form of welfare. Heeding her mother, LaVaughn decides that the older girl has to ``take hold.'' She prods Jolly to go back to school, where the skills she learns not only change her life but save that of her baby. Radiant with hope, this keenly observed and poignant novel is a stellar addition to YA literature. Ages 11-14. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Jolly is the 17-year-old mother of Jeremy and Jilly. She needs a babysitter. Enter 14-year-old LaVaughn, as street naOve as she is book smart. Together the two girls exist as a sort of family until the differences between them lead them on separate paths, each one making lemonade from the lemons in her life. Why It Is for Us: Wolff's free-verse style depicts the harsh realities of parenting in urban poverty with equal parts grit and grace. The reader roots for both girls and for a more hopeful future. Luckily, the book is the first in a trilogy. The story is continued in Printz Honor winner True Believer (2001) and will be completed in this year's This Full House. [Originally published in 1993.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Verna LaVaughn
Female
Age: 14
African American
High school freshman; dreams of college and of a better life; looking for a part-time job.
Student

Jolly
Female
Age: 17
Single mother
Mother of two young children; high school dropout; needs a babysitter while she works the night shift.



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