Make Lemonade (Make Lemonade Trilogy #1)

( 47 )

Overview

Jolly is seventeen. She can’t really spell. She doesn’t have much of a job. And she has two little kids from two different, absent fathers.

Jolly knows she can’t cope with Jilly and Jeremy all by herself. So she posts a notice on the school ­bulletin board: BABYSITTER NEEDED BAD. No one replies but Verna LaVaughn, who’s only fourteen. How much help can she be?

For a while, Jolly, Jilly, Jeremy, and LaVaughn are an extraordinary family. Then ...

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Overview

Jolly is seventeen. She can’t really spell. She doesn’t have much of a job. And she has two little kids from two different, absent fathers.

Jolly knows she can’t cope with Jilly and Jeremy all by herself. So she posts a notice on the school ­bulletin board: BABYSITTER NEEDED BAD. No one replies but Verna LaVaughn, who’s only fourteen. How much help can she be?

For a while, Jolly, Jilly, Jeremy, and LaVaughn are an extraordinary family. Then LaVaughn takes the first steps toward building her own future, and Jolly begins the long, slow process of turning the lemons of her life into lemonade.

“Powerfully moving.” –Kirkus Reviews, pointer

“Radiant with hope.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

In order to earn money for college, fourteen-year-old LaVaughn babysits for a teenage mother.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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)
The ALAN Review - Joyce C. Lackie
Trying to raise money for college and a better life, fourteen-year-old LaVaughn babysits for Jolly, a single mother, in her squalid apartment. Seventeen and almost illiterate, Jolly has two children and works nights in a factory. LaVaughn, drawn into Jolly's problems, begins babysitting for free and seeing her grades suffer. She ultimately coaxes an unwilling Jolly into a Moms Up Program, where Jolly begins to turn her life around. Wolff's lyrical style appears like poetry on the page, the lines of text broken into natural phrases. Told from LaVaughn's point of view, the narrative captures the poignant relationship between LaVaughn and Jolly's dirty but charming children, creating a sensitive and caring heroine. The book's strongest appeal will be to junior high girls. In an age of music videos demeaning to young women, Make Lemonade presents a strong message on survival skills and how to develop them.
School Library Journal
Gr 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
School Library Journal
Gr 7-12-Narrator Heather Simms brings to life 14-year-old LaVaughn, a powerful character in the novel by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Holt, 1993). Living in the projects but determined to be the first person in her family to go on to college, LaVaughn takes a job babysitting for Jolly, the teenage mother of two-year-old Jeremy and baby Jilly, whose life is the epitome of disorganization. With warmth, humor, and a voice blending street smarts and innocent naivete, Simms' melodious words draw listeners into the world of unwed parenthood, the struggle for a better life, and the deepening friendship between LaVaughn and Jolly. Written in the first person, the 66 short chapters of this powerful coming-of-age story portray life in all its gritty and sometimes heartbreaking reality, while at the same time conveying a message of inspiration and hope captured in the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Wolff's writing leaves listeners with no option but to root enthusiastically for both LaVaughn and Jolly, and to rush to the shelves for the sequel, True Believer (Atheneum, 2001). This stunning work belongs in every public and high school library.-Cindy Lombardo, Orrville Public Library, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Written in a riveting stream-of-consciousness fashion ... the book plunges into the depths of inner-city poverty.... At once disturbing and uplifting, this finely nuanced, touching portrait proudly affirms our ability to reach beyond ourselves and out to one another." —Booklist, starred review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739382288
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/24/2009
  • Series: Make Lemonade Series , #1
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: UBR
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Euwer Wolff is an accomplished violinist and former elementary school and high school English teacher. Her first book for young readers, Probably Still Nick Swansen, was published in 1988 and won both the International Reading Association Award and the PEN-West Book Award. Since then she has written several more critically acclaimed young adult novels, earning more honors, including the National Book Award for True Believer, as well as the Golden Kite Award for Fiction and the Jane Addams Book Award for Children’s Books that Build Peace. Her books include The Mozart Season, This Full House and Bat 6. She lives in Oregon.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2008

    Very Touching

    First of all, this book was very well written. The voice from the author is great and the line breaks make it even better. The story teaches a lesson to women that you should never give up just because an unexpected obstacle popped up in your life. Jolly's situation is still very complicated and is still seen today, it really opened my eyes because the story had so much detail to it. I defenitely recommend this book to all kinds of readers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2008

    a reader with a interest

    this boook was very good the reason i chose this book was because it seen like a good book and the fact that i knew it wasn't gonna be on making lemonade so i wanted 2 kno what it really wanted to kno what it was gonna be on.It taught me never to beselfish because it's people with worser .sistuations that you.So checked this book out i would recommend it this is a great for teens and for every one .

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    It was interesting

    this book was interresting well i thought it would be i read half of the book and i still didn't get to the interesting part. it didn't make me anxious to flip to the next page, but I guess you need to be older to get this book. because this book just made me return it to the library and go pick another one.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    14-year-old LaVaughn needs money to start saving for college. An

    14-year-old LaVaughn needs money to start saving for college. And 17-year-old Jolly has two kids who need babysitting. As LaVaughn begins to watch over Jeremy and Jilly, Jolly’s two children, she finds that she cares for the children and their well-being as well as Jolly’s own well-being.  LaVaughn discovers what it is like to be selfless as well as smart as she helps Jolly to turn her life around, and in the end, find herself.

    Wolff helps to solidify the fact that your life does not have to perfect in order to life. She uses the motif of lemons and lemonade throughout the entire story to show that 1) while somebody may have handed you a lemon without you realizing it at the beginning, you can still turn it into lemonade, and 2) even if you have to wait months and months for the lemon seeds to bloom, they will bloom. Jolly has been handed some of the hardest lemons imaginable, but she is still able to find the humor in her life. LaVaughn is able to see this in Jolly and benefit from this.  

    Wolff’s writing is great. It is a pretty easy read, and she splits up her writing well that helps the reader to not get overwhelmed. She spaces out her thoughts well and is very good at helping the reader get inside the head of the protagonist.

    I love Wolff’s writing and would recommend this read to anybody who wants an interesting storyline and a good read.

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  • Posted September 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A story of someone striving for a better life

    In this book a young girl set her site high so she can make her life and the lives of her future children better. In her efforts to do this, she befriends someone that could easily be her a couple years from now. While she pushes for a better life for herself, she ends up showing her friend she should do the same. In their efforts - they make lemonade out of the lemons they are dealt.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I LOVED this book!:)

    I loved this book. This book is interesting and changes how you look at other people. This book is pretty quick to read and it's also pretty easy. It's super interesting, and makes you want to read it again and again!:)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2010

    A grest book!!!

    Make Lemonade is a great book to read. This book is about a girl named LaVaughn and she has always wanted to go to college. She asked her mother if she could and her mother said she could and she would be proud, but they didn't have money. As LaVaughn got older, she got a part time job to try to earn that money. She decided to babysit. She started babysitting for a girl named Jolly. She was seventeen year old, single mom with two kids. While babysitting for Jolly LaVaughn learns that hard work really counts. After time went by, Jolly could not afford to pay LaVaughn, but LaVaughn still kept working. One event that happens while babysitting was one of Jolly's children almost chocking to death. Jolly and LaVaughn worked together to save the child's life. After this situation, Jolly and LaVaughn talk less. Eventually they go down their own paths. This book teaches me a lesson that hard works pays off and is a very inspiring book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    AMAZING STORY OF FRIENDS AND SURIVNG WITH WHAT YOU HAVE

    This is my favorite book of all time because it has a great message and unbeilevable story of friends and family, school as well and saying that you can to anything if you really do want to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Really -~~**DEEP**~~-

    This book is actually really meaningful. It sort of opens your eyes to life is in all communities. It definitely makes you rethink, you know, single mother living and the poverty in America. Not a lot of depth, or I guess plot structure, in the book. But its definitely satire and irony as an INP (You'd understand if you're in school, or my school) which is something you can appreciate. Definitely meaningful. Go ahead and read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Making Morals with the book "Make Lemonade"

    This book by Virginia Euwer Wolff is one of the best books that I have dedicated my time to read. The book is called "Make Lemonade", and it is about a girl named La Vaughn who is struggling to keep her head up, and make it through HighSchool so she might make it to college. Life is proving a challenge for La Vaughn especially when her mom asks her to get a job. so when she looks for a job she gets one working for a woman named Jolly, and all hell breaks loose. Enjoy a roller coaster ride that you'll never forget!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2008

    *yawn* i thought i was gonna die...

    book is so boring, and terrible. honestly, there are only a few spots where i like this book, but other than that, i have no care for the book at all.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    made me sleep

    i only read two chapters and the book literally made me go to sleep. it is a very book and i don't see how people like this book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2008

    Outstanding Read for 8th Graders

    Poor Jolly just can't pull herself together. At age 17, she is a drop-out and mom of two small children. To keep her job at a local factory, she seeks childcare help from a 14 year-old girl, LeVaughn. Though Jolly is 3 years older, it would seem as though LeVaughn is the grown-up in the equation. LeVaughn loves the children and takes on the roll of a parent, not just to the children, but to Jolly as well. She helps Jolly get into the 'Moms-up' program so she can finish her GED. LeVaughn also offers advice on how to handle the wandering, forceful hands of Jolly's boss. This book shows that you need not be old to be wise, and that compassion and inspiration come from the most unlikely of places. It demonstrates that your own dreams do not have to be put on hold for others, and others can have dreams of their own without knowing it. It is very well written. Though it is written in a poetic style, students seem to still gain great understanding of the material. My only complaint is that we do not learn what happens to the characters once LeVaugn is no longer needed as a caretaker.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2008

    A wonderful book enjoyable for many ages

    I highly rocommend this book, I am a twelve year old girl and I just fell completley in love with this book. I loved the passion and connection between the babysitter and the family she babysits for. I love the whole reason she keeps going back. I read this book within two days because it was pulling me in, it was that good!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2008

    A reviewer

    Make Lemonade is a dramatic story about a 17 year old girl named Jolly who dropped out of high school and tries to find a new job with two little children on her hands. She finds a babysitter named LaVaughn who is desperate for college money because her mother can¿t afford it. She is only 12 but the only person who Jolly could find to watch her two children while she goes to work. Most young reads who like to read realistic fiction will love Make Lemonade, a book filled with drama, sadness, and happiness. Make Lemonade is a bitter sweet heartwarming story about teen pregnancy and how it affects a teen¿s life. This story by Virginia Euwer Wolff will probably ring some bells in teens¿ minds of how hard it is to be a teen with children. This may change some teens¿ minds about becoming pregnant before they actually decide too. Will Jolly find a job and some way to pay LaVaughn for all her babysitting, so she can pay for her dream, to go to college? Will LaVaughn become a full time babysitter for Jolly? Readers of Make Lemonade will eagerly keep reading on to find all these answers. This short, sweet, and splendid book will leave a smile on your face and a bigger picture of life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2008

    A FIVE STAR BOOK!!!

    The book Make Lemonade is about a girl named Jolly, who has poor grammar and hasn¿t graduated from high school. Jolly is seventeen she has two kids and she isn¿t married. She is literally a single mom. Jeremy who is a toddler, and Jilly, who is just a baby live at home with their young mother with out a father. Jolly desperately needs help with her two kids, and is in need of some extra money. LaVaughn, who is fourteen, and smart, is looking for ways to get to college. When she sees a babysitting note that was posted by Jolly on the school bulletin, she jumps at the opportunity to earn some cash for college. As LaVaughn starts babysitting for Jolly, she has no idea what she is getting her self into. After Jolly comes home one night, beaten up, bruised, with out a job and parents to help her she turns to young LaVaughn for help. Jolly refuses to turn to welfare for her fear of loosing her children if she goes to the government for help. Jolly has to take on the tough life that she has, and make the best of what she has. This book is very sweet, and is easy to read and comprehend. It is a great book for young mothers and teenage girls. Make Lemonade shows how hard life can be, but you have to deal with what life gives you, just like Jolly did. But what will happen to Jolly and her two children? Will the government take her children away? How will the rent be paid? And how can LaVaughn, a young girl who wants to do something in the world help the troubled mother of two?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2007

    Outstanding

    This book was just a heartbreaking, realistic story about a young girl wanting to go to college and being pressured by her friends and family to do things she doesn't believe in. She's swimming in her own pool of devastion with he relationships with friends, family, and a boy. This is very realistic situation on someone trying to make it through rough times such as poverty and heartbreak.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2006

    Great for Teens

    i am in 6th grade, and had to read a book. This book was the best book i read in a LONG time. it was about a girl who wanted to go to college, but had many hardships before that. you have to read the the next book, TRUE BELIVER.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2006

    spectactular book

    this book was filled with real problems that a lot of people deal with and is writing in a great way for teens. the charaters come to life and the author really captures u in the stroy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2006

    Girl who would rather read than party

    I absolutely LOVED the way Ms. Wolff used the dialect of the particular area that this story took place in. She didn't try to use perfect language because let's face it we don't always use the 'proper' grammer rules. My one problem with this story is that the poem format kind of gave a dull feeling to the book.Other than that I felt that there was almost a sister-like relationship between LaVaughn and Jolly that made the book even more interesting.I wouldn't recomend this book to anyone who expects to read a book with a fairy tale ending, but to a person who is opened minded and has nothing to do on a rainy day.

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