Wolff, Virginia Euwer. 1993. Make lemonade. New
York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN: 0805022287.
Make Lemonade is a study in
contrast of the lives of two teenage girls who both come from hard
backgrounds. Although the setting for the story is not named
specifically, it quickly becomes apparent to readers that the girls
reside in the inner city. LaVaughn and Jolly both come from poor
families, but LaVaughn is determined to continue her education while
Jolly seems to be in a downward spiral of teenage pregnancy,
joblessness, and despair. When LaVaughn takes a job as Jolly's
babysitter, LaVaughn takes on a new role as she struggles to help Jolly
make positive changes while continuing her own studies.
Several factors combine to make this book a fast and enjoyable
read. Wolff is able to draw the reader in with a tense plot that
suggests that the main characters are at important crossroads in their
lives and decisions made on every page will affect each girl for years
to come. When Jolly loses her job due to sexual harassment and
has no way to pay bills and no family to turn to, it becomes apparent
that she is in a crisis that could resolve either to her benefit or
detriment. LaVaughn also has big decisions to make as she decides
if she can balance helping Jolly when she is unable to pay her with
what is required to keep her grades up so that she can go to college.
One standout element of this book that also contributed to the fast
pace at which it moves is Wolff's writing style. When describing
this technique, one reviewer said, "Wolff's stylistic experiment will
intrigue young readers; sixty-six brief chapters, with words arranged
on the page like poetry and sometimes composed of ungrammatical
sentences, perfectly echo the patterns of teenage speech."
(Silvey 1993) The author herself has stated that she chose to
write lines that ended at the margins so that the book would appeal to
teenagers who are like her character Jolly -- streetwise, but
unsuccessful students. (Isaacs 2003)
Isaacs, Kathleen T. 2003. Stories in verse. Book Links 12 (5): 10-15. In
EBSCOHost (database online). Available from
http://search.epnet.com/login.asp. Accessed 29 June 04.
Silvey, Anita and Mary M. Burns. 1993. Booklist: For
older readers. Horn Book
Magazine 69 (5). In EBSCOHost (database online).
Available from http://search.epnet.com/login.asp. Accessed 29