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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Make Lemonade


Make Lemonade 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  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  Accessed 29 June 04.

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University