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Make Lemonade

by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Published by Henry Holt, 1993
200 pages
ISBN: 0-8050-2228-7

Ages 12 - 16

"This word COLLEGE is in my house / and you have to walk around it in the rooms / like furniture." It's to earn money for college that fourteen-year-old LaVaughn takes a babysitting job working for 17-year-old single mother Jolly after school. Taking care of Jeremy, who's two, and baby Jilly is a huge job, and it's not made any easier by the fact that Jolly's life is barely balanced on the brink of disaster. One night she comes home beaten up. Another night she doesn't come home at all. But even as LaVaughn assumes more and more responsibility for this small, struggling family, she senses she is gaining something vital from being with all of them, even Jolly, or perhaps especially Jolly. Stunning, provocative prose ("Bathing with Jilly / is like going someplace warm into a tribe / and doing rituals. She decorates my face with suds / and fills the bathroom with cooing sounds nobody but a baby makes, / like she's sending signals / to Martians.") and solid characterizations are combined in this intriguing novel that looks like a narrative poem, but is actually lines of text broken to reflect the rhythm of spoken language.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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