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Make Lemonade (Make Lemonade Trilogy) Hardcover – May 15, 1993

4.3 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-12-- "This word COLLEGE is in my house,/ and you have to walk around it in the rooms/ like furniture." So LaVaughn, an urban 14-year-old, tries to earn the money she needs to make college a reality. She and her mother are a solid two-person family. When LaVaughn takes a job babysitting for Jolly, an abused, 17-year-old single parent who lives with her two children in squalor, her mother is not sure it's a good idea. How the girl's steady support helps Jolly to bootstrap herself into better times and how Jolly, in turn, helps her young friend to clarify her own values are the subjects of this complex, powerful narrative. The themes of parental love, sexual harassment, abuse, independence, and the value of education are its underpinnings. LaVaughn is a bright, compassionate teen who is a foil for Jolly, whose only brief role model was a foster parent, Gram, who died. The dynamics between the two young women are multidimensional and elastic--absolutely credible. LaVaughn's mother is a complete character, too, and even Jolly's kids become real. The tale is told in natural first-person, and in rhythmic prose arranged in open verse. The poetic form emphasizes the flow of the teenager's language and thought. The form invites readers to drop some preconceptions about novels, and they will find the plot and characters riveting. Make Lemonade is a triumphant, outstanding story. --Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Make Lemonade Trilogy
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (May 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805022287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805022285
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,953,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first read this book several years ago, I was bowled over by its power. Since then, I have returned to LaVaughn's story several times. Each time, I experience the same sense of joy and awe at Wolff's ability to tell a story, and to create sympathy without judging.
LaVaughn is an inner city kid trying to make good by earning a college scholarship. Her hardworking, firm-but-loving mom supports her, but urges LaVaughn to put academics first. Jolly, a teenaged mom who has been roughly handled by life, requests a babysitter, and LaVaughn responds.
Wolff makes us question every stereotype we may hold: that teenaged moms brought their problems upon themselves, that people who are out of work are lazy, that every poor person is anxious to accept a handout. None of these preconceived notions is true for Jolly or the other characters in the novel. Yet, while painting every character with a sympathetic brush, Wolff does not release any of them from responsibility. Life works out best, she reminds us, for those that rise above the despair of a hard situation and do something to make it better.
Wolff's free verse style creates strong images of Jolly's life, both stark and joyful: the battered card where she scrawls her desperate plea for help, the filthy floor in her apartment, Jeremy's triumph at being toilet trained, the blooming of a lemon plant that represents the hopes of children despite the harshness of their lives.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The novel Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff is about a fourteen girl named LaVaughn who baby-sits for a sixteen-year old girl named Jolly. The book tells about what happens while she baby-sits, about the family and their hardships, and about how the job affects her whole life. The story takes place in LaVaughn's home city, a place where many of the people can barely afford the roof over their heads. The people living here are not in good shape; there are many gangs, drugs, crowded high schools, and low security. Most of the residents are poverty-stricken, single parents, pregnant teens, criminals, or unemployed. The main characters fit some of these descriptions. LaVaughn lives in tiny apartment with her single mother. She attends a crowded high school where there are many gangs, drugs, etc. LaVaughn's father died when he got in between a gang fight that he wasn't even a part of. Jolly a sixteen-year old, single mother of two also has her share of problems; she was left by the men who gave those babies to her, and she can't get a job that pays well enough to support her growing children. She hires LaVaughn to baby-sit after school for her daily. Though sometimes LaVaughn doesn't get her full pay, she gets the love and admiration of the two children Jilly and Jeremy, and the friendship of Jolly.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, because it was not "sugar coated," or glamorized. LaVaughn's life mirrors the plight of many of the people living in this country. I also liked the way that LaVaughn helps Jolly in her time of need, most people would make her pay right away, or they would leave. LaVaughn and her mother share a common relationship that many teens experience with their own parents, no matter if they are rich or poor.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the novel Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwe Wolff, is a terrific book that tells about a fourteen year old girl named LaVaughn who helps a teen mom get back on her feet. LaVaughn is a hardworking and an A student who is determined to get into a scholarship to a good college so she can get as far away as she can from this town and get a respectable job. Jolly is a teenage mother with two children who is barely making the money for her rent and is in desparate need of a baby sitter. LaVaughn, deciding she needs all the money she can get if not to recieve a scholarship to college willingly takes the sitting job. Soon after jolly gets layed off from her job and can't pay LaVaughn anymore. Read on and see how LaVaughn helps Jolly take control of her life once again.
Some aspects of the books that i enjoyed reading was how descriptive the writer was about Jolly's house. The author would go on about the cockraoches crawling all over the walls and the gunk stuck in between the floor panels that no one would dare touch and try to clean up. This was told in such great detail that while I was readng this book I had a complete picture of Jolly's house. Another aspect that I liked about the book was LaVaughn's perserverance. LaVaughn keeps above average grades, baby-sits, and on top of that helps her mother around the house. All while she is doing this she keeps a strong hold of things and never gives up. I, personaly think she is a very good role model. I also liked how real the hardships of Jolly and LaVaughn had to face. The author mentioned things like Jolly not having enough money for diapers anymore and how vermins were living in her house like there were suppose to be there. I liked this because if they didn't have problems to face then there would be no point to this book at all.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
PLOT SUMMARY: LaVaughn, a high school student gets a job babysitting after school to earn money for her college savings fund. She ends up babysitting for Jolly, a 17 year-old single mother of two, who has problems supporting herself and her two children. With no family to speak of, Jolly takes the advice of 14 year-old LaVaughn and enrolls in a class at her high school that provides daycare for single mothers while helping them to earn a high school diploma. Because Jolly refuses to get financial help from the govermnent, LaVaughn often babysits and cleans house for free and basically finds herself being a mother to both Jolly and her children.
JOLLY: Jolly is a 17 year-old mom who is, for the most part, illiterate. Having been fired from her last job for refusing her boss's sexual advances, she is having a hard time finding another job she is qualified to do. Helpless and alone, she meets 14 year-old LaVaughn, who is her lifeline. With the help of LaVaughn, Jolly struggles to get back on her feet.
LAVAUGHN: LaVaughn is the 14 year-old daughter of a single mother and is struggling to earn money for college. She takes a job babysitting for Jolly but is so compelled by Jolly's situation that she continues to help even when the money runs out and even spends part of her own money to clothe the children. She becomes so involved in the lives of Jolly and her two children that she almost loses sight of her own goals.
INFORMATION TO ENGLISH TEACHERS: This novel is a wonderful novel for the lower-level or average student. It is written on a level young adults can understand, and sadly enough, many students are able to relate to the problems Jolly faces as a teenage mother. A very short and easy read, students are not likely to lose interest.
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