Make Lemonade

Virginia Euwer Wolff, Author Henry Holt & Company $17.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2228-5
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)
Reviewed on: 05/17/1993
Release date: 05/01/1993
Genre: Children's
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