Make Lemonade

by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Paperback, 1994



Call number

PB Wol

Call number

PB Wol

Local notes

PB Wol




Scholastic Paperbacks (1994), Edition: No Edition Stated, 208 pages


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


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

208 p.; 4.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
Rating: 4* of five

The Book Description: Virginia Euwer Wolff's groundbreaking novel, written in free verse, tells the story of fourteen-year-old LaVaughn, who is determined to go to college--she just needs the money to get there. When she answers a babysitting ad, LaVaughn meets Jolly, a
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seventeen-year-old single mother with two kids by different fathers. As she helps Jolly make lemonade out of the lemons her life has given her, LaVaughn learns some lessons outside the classroom. With two kids hanging in the balance, they need to make the best out of life -- and they can only do it for themselves and each other.

My Review: Okay. Brace yourselves. This is a YA novel written in a teenaged girl's voice in free verse. What does this strongly imply I am about to do? Rant and invectivize and holler, right? As a rule, a safe bet.

Rule, meet exception.

I love LaVaughn and Jolly and their weird, codependent growing up. I am impressed by the genuineness of all the various lovings going on through the book. I am even overlooking the free-verse affectation. It's totally unnecessary to tell this story in any kind of verse, but whatever. LaVaughn's first person voice is poignantly like that of other young women I've known as they grew up, and makes me mist over a little bit.

Quote me on that and I will swear an oath on a stack of Bibles that you're lying.

The events that LaVaughn narrates remind me of my many attempts to save others. White knight, in more ways than one, rides in and saves the day...then poof you're invisible when things go right. It's like being a parent!

It IS being a parent. And that both sucks and blows. But it's also, in a weird masochistic way, the best feeling of all, because there is one fewer roadblock in someone else's path through life because you, O Savior Complex Haver, gave in and did what your warped sense of self insists is right.

Problem is...that warp is there because, more often than not, you ARE right.

La Vaughn's in for a long long haul. But she also gets something big in return, something not always obvious at the moment, and often not until a lot of life has passed beneath one's eyes. She gets to know in her heart that at least a few people had one less rock to carry, one more reason to smile, one small moment of being, if not feeling, cared about and for, because she lifted, carried, cared, smiled.

Most days that's enough. Come hear her tell about it. It's a good story.
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LibraryThing member erinbreland
Make lemonade is about a fourteen year old girl, La Vaughn, takes a babysitting job for a seventeen year old single mother of two children. La Vaughn is trying to save money for college. La Vaughn is a very responsible young lady and she always gets her work done and takes good care of Jeremy and
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Jilly while Jolly, the seventeen year old mother, is at work on the late shift. Jolly loses her job and La Vaughn babysits for free because she is now friends with Jolly and loves Jilly and Jeremy. La Vaughn becomes torn between her friendship with jolly and love for her kids and the reason she started the job in the first place which is for college. I will not tell the ending because i never do......Sorry.
This book is wonderful. I am not a fan of poetry but the book is set up like a book of poetry and i did not think that I would like it at all. I think that this book will be great to use in the classroom for two reasons. Reason number one being that it is a different format for students to read and observe. I like the poetry set up that was in this book and considering how great the book turned out to be then maybe students will be amped to read more books like this one. I also think that this book is great especially for middle school students and early high school students because from the point of view of Jolly and her situation it is not one that any girl should or would want to be in and I think that from the point of view of La Vaughn she is 14 years old and already thinking of saving for college. I also think that this book presents very diverse characters and that is why i liked it so much.
I loved this book as you can all already tell!!! I think that even if teachers don't want to put it in their classroom library they should still read it because it is such a great book. I also think that not putting it in your classroom library would be a huge mistake because like i said the book has so much diversity.
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LibraryThing member BrittanyYoung
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer-Wolff is a short story about a 14 year-old girl named LaVaughn. She gets a babysitting job for a 17 year-old mother of two named Jolly in order to make money in hopes of going to college. However, after LaVaughn and Jolly become friends, Jolly is fired from her job
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and cannot afford to pay LaVaughn anymore. Does LaVaughn stay to help Jolly even though life has handed them lemons, or will she leave to further pursue her dreams.

This is a great book to use in a classroom. The first major point about it is that it is a narrative written in poetry. This allows students to have diversity in their reading. Also, a major theme that is seen in the story that I would love to teach my classroom is that of perseverance. Through LaVaughn’s and Jolly’s stories, students would be allowed to see that they can do anything, as long as they try their hardest.

I did not much care for this book, even though it sends a good message. It was a short read, but somewhat hard to get through. I would teach it to my classroom simply because of its diversity, but I would not recommend it to everyone.
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LibraryThing member ShelbyJoMcKay
LaVaughn is a 14 year old girl with dreams of going to college. She gets an afterschool babysitting job for teen mother of two, Jolly. While juggling her school work, Jolly's two kids, and all of the craziness that is Jolly's miserable life, LaVaughn sees how important it is that she not end up
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like Jolly. She is also shown that not everyone gets a choice in the direction of their future, or "lemons" to make lemonade with.

I think that I would teach this to a classroom of 8th-11th graders. It is an easy read, but it is written very poetically and I liked it. I think this story offers many great lessons to be discussed. Jolly, for instance, was drugged and has two children that she supports by herself. She therefore has no time to go to school or pull herself and her children out of the rut in which they have been left. Many children take their circumstances and education for granted.

I really liked the book. I flew through it in one afternoon. I was left wondering why Jolly and LaVaughn went their seperate ways after the hospital stuff. I wish they would have stayed friends even though I know their split signified the lesson learned, and the leaps Jolly had taken. I guess I should read the rest of the series.
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LibraryThing member MalloryBatson
This book is about a young girl named La Vaughn who takes a babysitting job. She needs money to pay her way through college. She wants to better herself because she has grown up in poverty herself. She takes on a job babysitting for a young, seventeen year old mother of two. The children's names
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are Jeremy and Jilly. They do not have enough to eat, clothes to wear, nor do they get to enjoy simple pleasures in life like taking a bus ride somewhere. However, Jolly, the children's mother, lovers her children very much. She simply lacks the education and resources to help better herself. She works a night shift job to earn wages. La Vaughn grows very attached to the children and wants to help them out as much as possible. At first, Jolly is able to pay La Vaughn for sitting the kids. La Vaughn babysits from the time she is out of school until late in the evening, and she also gets her homework done. She spends time playing with the children and teaching them. La Vaughn takes pride in her job, and her bank account begins to grow. However, Jolly suddenly loses her job. Now La Vaughn is unsure about what to do. Should she go to school or help out Jolly because she has no family to fall back on? Jolly does not want to get on welfare in fear that she will lose her children. Jolly eventually talks La Vaughn in to going on to school.

Two major themes from this book that would be great for classroom discussions are the importance of an education and literacy and welfare. Many people today are illiterate because of a lack of schooling. Many people drop out of school and never truly learn how to read, which can be very discouraging. As a result, jobs are harder to come by, and the jobs they can find are often low paying jobs. Students need to understand the importance of getting a good education and learning how to read and write. Teachers could research more findings about the relationship between literate people and higher paying jobs. Then, the class could discuss reasons from the book on why they should stay in school. Also, another important topic from this book is welfare. I find this topic important to discuss because many adolescent teens do not know what welfare is. Many of them may have heard the term before, but they do not fully understand it. Therefore, this book provides a perfect opportunity to explain the purpose of welfare. Teachers should also research more about welfare in order to be very competent on this subject. Welfare can be a tricky topic, so the teacher should be knowledgeable and careful with exactly what he/she says. Welfare is intended to help low income families with children. When a mother loses her job or is unemployed and has children, the government gives the parent an allotted check for each child the parent has. However, in some cases, if the government feels that the person is an inadequate parent, it can take the child/children from the household and place them in foster care. Some students in the classroom may be on welfare checks, which is why to be careful on what you talk about in the classroom. However, this also allows other students to discuss their own lives and allows students to learn from each other.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it was a great feel good book. La Vaughn wanted her education, yet once she became attached to Jolly and her family, she wanted to put their needs ahead of her own. I felt like she was being very selfless and genuine. This book did not remind me of any other book I have read. However, I truly enjoyed the story. I have never read a book written in a poem format, so it was a new experience for me. I was a bit skeptical about it a first, but once i began reading, I did not want to put the book down. I definitely feel like this is a great book for middle school aged children (11-14). However, I feel like girls may enjoy this book more than boys. Overall, I feel like it is a great read for anyone though and would definitely incorporate it into my classroom library.
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LibraryThing member SarahCoil
LaVaughn is a young girl that takes on a lot of responsibility. She sees an ad at school for a babysitter. She gets the job and learns that the conditions are not the best. The mother dropped out of school and gets fired from her job. LaVaughn grows very close to the family and helps the mother
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turn her life around and is there for the kids until Jolly is able of handling things on her own.

Students should put themselves in Lavaughn’s shoes. They should discuss with their peers about how her actions would compare to theirs. They should answer questions relating to all of the situations that she is faced with. Students could also write a paper on what Jolly could have done differently in her life to change her experiences. For example, deciding to use welfare to help her children and what that could have led to.

I really liked this story. In the beginning, I didn’t really like it. I felt like Jolly was just using LaVaughn and taking advantage of her. As the story progresses it shows how they both needed each other in order to grow and become successful. In the end I really appreciated how they had used each other in order to grow stronger and go their separate ways.
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LibraryThing member RomikaC
Make Lemonade is the remarkable story of a fourteen-year old girl named LaVaughn who, has taken a babysitting job to save money for college. She babysits for Jolly an improvised seventeen-year old mother of two (Jeremy and Jilly). LaVaughn speaks about the harsh conditions which Jolly and her
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children live. Although, deprived of many basic necessities Jolly unconditional love for her two children are evident. LaVaughn is faced with a tough decision after Jolly loses her job, whether to continue to babysit Jilly and Jeremy without pay or quitting. Realizing that Jolly doesn’t have family or friends to rely on for help, LaVaughn decides to continue babysitting Jeremy and Jolly. She also persuades Jolly to return to school, this is a growth process for both Jolly and LaVaughn.

Lessons that can be incorporated from this book are the importance of education and defining poetry. This story can teach students that obtaining an education is important because of the struggling associated with not being educated. Since this story is told in poetry form, teachers can define poetry and have student to create his/her poetry journal.

Making Lemonade was a great book about hope, determination, and friendship. I think that although LaVaughn was in need of money, her deciding to continue to keep Jolly’s children shows that she wants assist in the betterment of Jolly’s family.
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LibraryThing member BrOoKe03
LaVaughn is a young, fourteen year old girl who is saving money for college. Since she was a child her mother drilled it into her head that she would attend college one day, but she would have to pay for it. She saw an add requesting a babysitter. After meeting with Jolly and seeing the two kids,
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she convinced her mother to let her take the job. She spent many afternoons with the children teaching them new things. She also discovered that Jolly was not well educated. LaVaughn was there through many hardships with the family. With each others help, Jolly and LaVaughn were able to progress to better things in life; they especially bettered themselves.

This novel is one that shows that even through hardships, one can still come out on top. There is always a positive to some negative. This novel would be a good example for children to show them that if they are determined enough, they can do anything they choose.

I enjoyed the novel. It was touching and somewhat emotional. It really grabbed my attention from the beginning and was difficult to put down. I would recommend it for others to read. It has a great moral and is a wonderful story.
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LibraryThing member RagenLambert
Make Lemonade is the story is of a fourteen year old girl named La Vaughn. La Vaughn needs to save up money for college so she decides to take a job as a babysitter. She babysits for a working teenage mother who does not have much money. La Vaughn has to go through the trials and tribulations of
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working for a poverty stricken woman and still trying to pursue her dream of going to college.

I believe this story would be a great book for the classroom. It would be really good because it is written in poetry. When I was in school, the only poetry we read was the “old-timey” kinds that were written back in the 1800’s and 1900’s. I think it would be really good for students to read modern poetry to realize that poetry does not have to be old timey.

I did enjoy this book. At times it got really boring but it had a good story line. It really showed how some people struggle every day and that I should be happy with everything I have. It made me realize that my parents have to work hard to pay for my college and I should be really thankful for that.
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LibraryThing member LindseyHerring
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolf is a moving story about fourteen year old LaVaughn and the small family she begins to babysit for. Jolly, the mother, is a seventeen year old single mother of two young children, Jeremy and Jilly. LaVaughn goes to Jolly originally to start making and saving
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money for college, but eventually begins to feel like part of Jolly's small family.

If a teacher planned to use this book in her classroom, there are a few things that could be done with it. Because the book is written in poetry format, the teacher could instruct students to keep a reading log and create poems for the entries while reading the book. Also, some students can relate to LaVaughn's journey in the book: trying to succeed and make a better life for herself while also trying to be a good friend and help Jolly.

I enjoyed the book but I did not like the way it was written. The way Lavaughn's thoughts are sometimes jumbled got on my nerves and made it hard for me to focus on what was happening in the book. I did like the story though, and loved the relationship LaVaughn had with her mother, but I wish she wouldn't have been as secretive about what was happening at Jolly's place. I also loved the relationship LaVaughn had with the kids. Also, I understood Jolly's struggles, but the way she handled herself and how she took care of her kids and cleaned her apartment really irritated me. I just wanted LaVaughn to shake some sense into her.
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LibraryThing member Nicole_16
After her father's death, LaVaugn is raised in a single parent home by her mother. Her mother is a strong willed woman who wants the best for her daughter. She continually encourages LaVaughn to get good grades and go to college. Desiring to go to college and have a better life, LaVaughn decides to
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take a babysitting job for a teenage mother to earn money. Jolly, the teenage mother, struggles to keep food on her children table, how will she afford to pay LaVaughn? LaVaughn has to try and balance helping the struggling teen mother and remain focused on school.

Possible theme discussions for this book would be the importance of education and teen parenting. The teacher can begin the discussion by asking the class, why was education so important to LaVaughn and her mother? Also find examples to back up their reasoning. Likewise, how and why did education become important to Jolly? To discuss teen parenting, the teacher can discuss the role of Jolly as a mother. Did Jolly do everything she could to provide for her family? Also the students can find details in the book to back up why Jolly is or is not a good mother.

I really enjoyed the book. I loved that LaVaughn tried her best to remain focused on school and going to college. I really want to find out what happened between LaVaughn and Jolly that LaVaughn stopped babysitting for her. This reason was not clear in the book. I also fell in love with Jeremy and Jilly. Even though they did not say much, they played a major role throughout the novel.
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LibraryThing member JasmineW
This book is called Make Lemonade by Virginia Wolff. The book is about a girl name LaVaughn, who saw a note saying BABYSITTER NEEDED BAD. All the tabs were still there, which should have been a sign. LaVaughn asked her mom if she could do the job so that she can save money for college, and her mom
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agreed as long as her grades didn't drop. She worked for Jolly, whose kids were Jeremy and Jilly. At one point, Jolly lost her job so that meant LaVaughn would not be getting paid. LaVaugh couldn't let her mom find out about that. Finally, you have to read on to see how everything unfolds. Will Jolly get a new job? Will LaVaughn's mom find out she has been working for free? Read on and see.

The first idea I wanted to do with this book is have my students to write (prewriting/drafting stage) a story in poem form like the book. The poem does not have to rhyme. I think if the student's enjoyed reading this poem book, they should enjoy writing their own poems. We will partner share our poems. The second idea I have with this book is to take our poem and go through the rest of the writing process. The students will revise their poem, but the students must add in sensory words or phrases (i.e. sight, smell, touch, sounds, taste). Include at least one for each sense. For example, when adding in touch, the student can simply add in their poem, "I washed the dishes or scrub pans," etc. to show that sense. Finally, finish the stages, editing and publishing.

I enjoyed reading this book. I rate it 4 stars. I would use this in a middle school classroom because it is easy to read and understand. It does not take much time to read, which is a plus. Some students may be able to relate to it because some young middle schoolers may babysit, but must keep their grades up in order to keep the job. I thought it was a great read and I'd add it to my classroom library!
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LibraryThing member AllisonBates
1. Make Lemonade tells in poetry format a narrative about a teen mother (Jolly), and her children (Jilly and Jeremy) from the perspective of LaVaughn, an adolescent girl who babysits the children while Jilly works. The poverty of Jolly and her children is atrocious, and it seems that upward
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mobility is completely out of the question for all three of them. LaVaughn, however, does everything within her means to empower Jilly towards changing the lives of herself and her children. Even LaVaughn’s life is not one to be envied, as her babysitting money is being set aside to send her to college, a feat that often seems far off and insurmountable. This story outlines how “making lemonade” with what life gives you can still bring positive results, despite what kind of situation a character rose from. It is amazing how LaVaughn’s determination for herself and Jilly never ceases, resulting in opportunities for everyone involved becoming available. The Mom’s Up program that LaVaughn finally urges Jilly to become a part of gives her the confidence she needs to provide for her household, a quality she never could have discovered on her own.
2. Especially for students from more privileged upbringings, Make Lemonade shows a social situation in which many teens have not even contemplated, much less experienced for themselves. A study of real poverty statistics in the United States could result from discussion from this book. Also, cross content lessons could implement a study of the government’s welfare policies, unemployment opportunities for young mothers, and other laws that may apply to Jilly’s situation. As a theme study, students can write, discuss, or come to conclusions on what the symbolism of “making lemonade” really means. When is a time that they have had to “make lemonade.” Were the results good or bad? What do the students think would have happened to Jilly had she not learned how to “make lemonade” and find opportunities for success out of her situation. Additionally, what about “pulling up your bootstraps,” a phrase used by LaVaughn’s mother? Have the students collect such phrases, then do a lesson on colloquialisms and figures of speech. And, of course, a teacher could always actually MAKE LEMONADE as a class activity to promote interest.
3. I’m not sure if it was the poetry format of the book, or if the content actually saddened me to the point of repulsion, but I was not completely attracted to this novel. I think it was good for me to be exposed to it, as I believe exposing poverty to teens is also necessary, but I did not enjoy it the way I have enjoyed other works of adolescent literature. Being turned off to the storyline, however, really caused me to think about how I should, and plan to, read more works that touch on these kinds of topics. Poverty, teen pregnancy, and welfare are issues I never had to face growing up, and my discomfort with such topics is something that I am somewhat ashamed of. Reading things such as Make Lemonade should propel me to action. The discomfort I experienced caused me to approach the realization that not all of my students will have had the same home life as I did; I must learn to both relate to and empower these students.
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LibraryThing member AshleyMarkeitaTate
Making Lemonade is the tale of 14 year old LaVaughn. LaVaughn has big dreams of overcoming the adversity of her surroundings by attending college, but she has no way to pay for it. While searching her high school job board, she comes across a babysitting position from a parent that seems to be in
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desperate need. She pleads with her mother to be able to accept the job and she embarks on a journey that she will never forget.

The story of LaVaughn and Jolly is a heavy one, but their struggles are something anyone could relate to. With the way teen pregnancy has been kind of sensationalized in the media, students would get a real glimpse of normal teen moms. I would consider having my students split up into groups and try to prepare a household budget for Jolly and her children to see exactly what she was dealing with. It is better to do this to stop students from forming judgements. We could also discuss what everyone would have done had they been in LaVaughn's position and why.

I did not really like the book. While the subject matter was good and believable, I did not like how it was written. Some parts captured my attention (i.e., how close LaVaughn was with the children and Jolly--they were like a family), but other parts just left me shaking my head and feeling sorry for LaVaughn (i.e., how Jolly kept her home and her children so filthy. It also hurt me that Jolly acted as if she had too much pride to consider receiving welfare for her children when she didn't have too many other options. It was like she'd rather be evicted than ask for help. I also did not like how, in the end, Jolly seemed to have forgotten that it was LaVaughn that pushed and pushed for her to continue her education because she would barely acknowledge her! Some things just could have been done differently or more thoroughly.
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LibraryThing member megan_henley
Seventeen year old Jolly is a mother of two who can't seem to hold a job and has little if any education experience. Jolly can not take care of her two young children Jeremy and Jilly alone, so she posts an ad for a babysitter. Only one person responds to the post, and it's fourteen year old
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LaVaughn. With her help, Jolly starts to try to put the pieces of her life back together. She gets enrolled back in a mom's school program and LaVaughn continues to help with Jeremy and Jilly whenever needed. Slowly but surely Jolly puts the "lemons" of her life together in order to "make lemonade."

Throughout the book LaVaughn is determined to help Jeremy grow a lemon plant by bringing him lemon seeds and planting them with him. In a science class, this exact same experiment could be used with lemon seeds or any other type of seed. The students could plant their seeds and watch their progress every week. This book would also be a good example to students as to why it is so important to stay in school and get a good education. Jolly was a struggling mom until she finally decided to get back into school and get some help.

Make Lemonade was a very touching book. The story of LaVaughn with Jeremy and Jilly was a sweet and heartfelt relationship. I enjoyed seeing how much their bond grew and how LaVaughn grew to love those two children so much. I had trouble following the book at some points just because of the way it was written in all poetry with several grammar mistakes. Make Lemonade was definitely an eye opening story to how many young moms struggle to survive and support their families.
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LibraryThing member Bogle3
Make Lemonade is about a girl named LaVaughn who needs money for college so she begins babysitting for Jolly. Jolly has two kids named Jilly and Jeremy. Jolly is 17 and she lives in a run down apartment. She has a steady job till she gets fired. The whole time LaVaughn is babysitting for Jolly, she
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is making up reasons in her mind why she should not be there. However, she knows she is doing a good thing by helping Jolly. She also enjoys being with the children. During the time she is working for Jolly she gets fired and then rehired. She then begins working for only an hour a day when Jolly begins taking the classes at the school. Lavaughn teaches Jolly about life and helps her with her problems. Jolly eventually gets through her problems.

I would use this in a classroom. I think this is a great book to help students learn that there are always consequences for all their actions. However if they ever need help there is always someone out there that will help you. Another could teaching point in this book is a teacher could use this book is the Home Economics class. The teacher could talk about money and how to manage it, the teacher could also talk about managing your children in the house, and how to keep a house clean.

I absolutely loved this book. I could not put this book down after I started reading it! Wolff did a tremendous job on the writing it in this book, and I can not wait to read the last book.
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LibraryThing member Nicole.Virden
Make Lemonade is a book about a girl named LaVaugn who needs money for college. She finds a flyer about a girl named Jolly who has two children, Jilly and Jeremy. She ends up babysitting for them until she gets fired then rehired and then becomes their nanny for only one hour a day. There are so
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many ups and downs and throughout the novel, LaVaugn is helping Jolly become the woman she needs to be. She is teaching her how to "make lemonade" out of life. LaVaugn thinks of so many reasons that she should not be there anymore but then she realizes how much the children need her and it keeps her going back.

I do not think I would use this to teach in a classroom. It is a good book but the only thing that I can see being taught is that students should always "make lemonade" out of all situations. They should always keep looking up and making the best out of life. It could teach that they should never just give up or settle. This book kind of reminds me of my friend who got pregnant when she was just 16 and she decided to stay in school and then continue to college. She has done a great job and she has "made lemonade" out of a rough situation.

This was an okay book but I did not like how it was written. It jumped so much back and forth that I struggled to keep up with the story. I'm not sure if it was the poetry form or just how scattered it was. The plot jumped from one thing to the next very quick and sometimes I could not tell if it was conversation or just narration. If it was confusing to me as a student reading it, I don't feel like I could teach it as a teacher.
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LibraryThing member WhitneyActon
This book follows Verna LaVaughn, a fourteen year old student who takes a babysitting job on in order to save up for college. Little does she know that Jilly and Jeremy will change her life, causing her to change her habits of all day schoolwork and spend the night with the children. She changes
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their mom's life, Jolly, as well, as she gives her inspiration to go back to school and to become a better mother to her two children.
One concern that I might have when teaching this book is the fact that it does have a very different format than regular novels. This may cause some kids to be turned off from it. I think that it does take some getting used to (even from my end), but ultimately I think that it is good to expose them to different forms of story telling, especially modern ones like this. One connection that I would make with the students about the novel is the priorities that LaVaughn has to set for herself. Is she going to choose the children or school? I think it is an important issue to discuss with young readers, as they need to be informed and know what they would do in certain situations.
Although I did connect with the decisions that LaVaughn was having to make in the novel, it was not one of my favorites. I do not know whether I just could not get used to the poetry element of the novel or what, but it was not easy for me to get into. The part that impressed me the most and made me change my mind about Jolly was the when she performed CPR towards the end of the novel, making me finally think that she was changing for the better. As crazy as this sounds, it kind of reminded me of the Iliad and the Odyssey, because it was the same length that an epic poem would be. It seems to be just a modern version of this concept. However, I still was not able to read this as readily as I would a typical novel, and that could be because I like to know more background information and setting than this book allows.
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LibraryThing member JessicaMurphree
This book is about a teen mother who has two children. LaVaughn is a girl who takes the babysitting job for these children. Jolly is the mother of the children. Jolly gets fired from her job.

I think this book would be a good book for home economics classes to read. This book deals with life. The
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siutation this family is bad. The had to live in a box for a while.

I would give this book a rating of 4. This is a pretty good book. Jolly has two children. LaVaughn takes this job so she can save money for college. Her father died when she was younger. Her mother has a career on the City Council. After Jolly, gets fired from her job she can not longer pay LaVaughn for babysitting the children. LaVaughn tries to clean up the house for Jolly, but it is very nasty. After a while, LaVaughn finally gets Jolly to go back to school and take some classes. Jolly does not like welfare. LaVaughn takes Jeremy to buy him some new shoes and they ride the bus into town.
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LibraryThing member WhitneyD
"Make Lemonade" is a novel written in poetry format. It tells the story of a young girl, LaVaughn, who becomes a babysitter for a young teenage mother, Jolly, in order to earn money to go to college. While she babysits the two children, Jilly and Jeremey, she learns a great deal about their
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situation. Jolly and her children live in great poverty, and Jolly, because of her young age, does not have the means to provide for her young children. LaVaughn helps this young mother by convincing her to go to a group called Moms Up that will help her better provide for her two children. Because of this young girl, Jolly learns how to provide what her children need and they live a better life than they would have without LaVaughn.

I think there can be many teaching connections to this book. One is to educate the students about people who live in poverty. It is not always by choice, and we should do our best to provide help for these poor and struggling people. I also think this is a great oppurtunity to teach poetry. Students often find poetry to be difficult and boring. However, reading a novel like this, that is told in unrhymed poetry, can be a fun and interesting way to learn the characteristics of poetry.

I loved the fact that this book was written in poetry form. For me, it made the book interesting and it made it flow well. I have never read a novel written in poetry, but it is definitely something I would do again. I also liked the story. It was very sad at times, but, overall, I think that is posses a very good message. I would read it in my classroom.
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LibraryThing member sdl149
Make Lemonade by Virginia Wolfe is about a girl named LaVaughn that gets a job to try and save up money so that she can go to college. She finds a job babysitting for a teenage mother of two that poses so many new challenges and threats to LaVaughn’s way of life and her aspiration for college.
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Throughout her experiences and helping out Jolly, the mother, she learns more about the sometimes harsh and cruel realities of life.
This book would be a great starter for introducing poem-like books into a middle to upper level classroom. The book is written like the author was trying to write a poetry book that tells an extremely long and involved story. I could also use this to get some children and young adults more interested in going to college and getting out of some of the environments that they were born into. It could let them know that there is another option out there for them.
I almost didn’t like this book as a whole. I read it all and up until the very end I did not know whether or not I liked any of the characters besides Jilly and Jeremy, because its near impossible to not like those kids. LaVaughn is pretty mature for a fourteen-year-old but still very immature in the ways of life other than her own. I think that throughout the book, she grows as a person and learns and observes more of her surroundings. I felt that the ending lacked something for me. I didn’t especially like the fact that Jolly just ignored LaVaughn after she got most of her life together. I thought that they had formed a deeper relationship than that.
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LibraryThing member PaigeMcIlwain
Make Lemonade is a novel written in poem form. It is written from the perspective of LaVaughn, a fourteen-year-old girl bent on saving money for college. In order to earn money, she decides to take on a babysitting job. An ad posted on the school bulletin board leads her to Jolly, the
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seventeen-year-old mother of baby Jilly and three-year-old Jeremy. This job proves to be more difficult than LaVaughn had imagined; however, she gains wisdom from seeing the circumstance of this family. In addition, she helps Jolly find ways to provide for her children and "take hold." Impossible circumstances stack up against Jolly, but with the help of LaVaughn, she is able to grow as an individual and a mother.

This book could be helpful in a classroom. Most students are only familiar with books written in prose; however, this book is written in the form of poems. This book could be used to help study unrhymed poetry. It might also be beneficial to use with struggling readers who are easily frustrated with long novels. In addition, this book would encourage students in the late stages of middle school or early stages of high school to think about their future. Readers can see that the future LaVaughn has choosen takes much preparation. This book may help them realize that in order to reach goals people must prepare for the future. Even though Jolly may not be completely content with her situation in life, she must also make preparations and take action so that she can provide herself and her children with a brighter future. Students need to be inspired to be proactive.

I enjoyed this book and especially enjoyed the poem form in which it was written. It was a quick and insightful read. Make Lemonade helped me to realize the harsh situations that some people faced in life and how large of an impact family can have on an individual. Comparing the family situation of Jolly and LaVaughn showed the difference that family can make - two girls not distant in age but living completely different lives. This book also gave hope and showed that even the worst of situations can be improved with effort.
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LibraryThing member AnnieGoodwin
"Make Lemonade" by Virginia Euwer Wolff is a unique novel that tells the story of Jolly and her babysitter, La Vaughn, written in poetry form. Jolly is a seventeen year-old single mother of two. La Vaughn is a fourteen year-old high school student looking for a job to save money for college and
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work her way to a better situation. La Vaughn sees a want add for a babysitter. La Vaughn convinces her very stern mother that this job is the one that will help her make money for college. She is under the impression that this job will be for a few hours each day. However, La Vaughn gets more involved with Jolly and her two children, Jeremy and Jilly, than she ever imagined. As Jolly is fired from her minimum wage job, more and more obstacles seem to come her way. La Vaughn learns that she is doing much more than babysitting the small kids. She is also helping Jolly learn how to take control and make a better life for her children. This is a story of tremendous personal growth for both Jolly and La Vaughn.

This text is incredibly powerful and could be used in a classroom in a variety of different ways. Since the book is written in poetry form, it is clear that this book would be beneficial in a poetry study. Many students think of poetry in rhyming form. This book would serve as a great way for students to discover poetry in unrhymed, free verse form. Additionally, it could be a model for unrhymed poetry for students. Following this book, I feel it would be appropriate to assign students to write their own narrative poetry in free verse form. I also feel that this text would be a great way to incorporate motivational text in a classroom. Many motivational text are written in story form for smaller children or in a biography that may seem too sophisticated for adolescent children. This text is written in language that is not too complicated for adolescent students and is accompanied by a motivational theme that is important for middle school students to understand; what happens to you now effects the rest of your life.

I really enjoyed reading "Make Lemonade." I felt that is was a powerful and motivating text. I felt as if I was wrapped around the character's finer tips. I could not put the book down and was compelled to keep reading to find out what happened next. I felt that because it was written in poetry form, the book was a quick read and provided many cliff hangers. These cliff hangers captivated my interest and made me feel closer to each of the characters. As a future teacher, I also felt a connection to La Vaughn with my love for children. I also would have felt compelled to stay with Jolly's children. I believe "Make Lemonade" is a great text for not only adolescents to read, but also readers of every age.
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LibraryThing member yourotherleft
Make Lemonade is narrated by 14-year-old LaVaughn, child of a single mother, who is bent on getting the grades and earning the money necessary to earn her escape from her rough neighborhood by going to college.

The word COLLEGE is in my house,
and you have to walk around it in the rooms
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Her mother tells her that she will have to earn money for college herself, so when she sees a neglected ad for a babysitting job on a school bulletin board, she makes a call and meets Jolly. Jolly's is the life that LaVaughn is most seeking to avoid. Jolly is the teenage mother of two children, Jeremy and Jilly, by two different absent fathers. She never finished high school, so she struggles to make ends meet working for minimum wage at her "good" factory job. Jolly's apartment is a mess, and so is her life. At 17, she has two kids to take care of and absolutely no one to help her and no one to tell her the things she needs to know about parenting, about working, about life. Soon, LaVaughn finds herself more caught up in Jolly's life and problems than she ever could have imagined. When Jolly loses her job, LaVaughn has to decide whether to stick around uncompensated and help Jolly make lemonade out of the many lemons in her life. As it turns out, each character has much to teach the other.

"I'm canned," Jolly says, and she translates immediately,
And I suddenly see, in piles,
all the food in the store nobody's gonna buy
for Jeremy and Jilly,
how Jilly has to be toilet trained right now
because of no more diapers,
not even soap to wash anything
and it's still so filthy around here,
and you have to have money to buy toilet paper, even.

Wolff's writing is incredible, and the verse format allows her the latitude to fit enormous feelings into tiny sentences. She never just tells us, she shows us, making us feel feel right along with the characters. The structure allows her to put emphasis on key moments and words and even to create those moments that are so short but seem so long as they're happening. Wolff's words admirably rise to the poetic occasion, being both lyrical and heart-wrenching in their simplicity. LaVaughn's narration is pitch perfect as she struggles to understand how alone Jolly is and how many things she's never been taught because she's simply never had anyone to teach her. At one point, Jolly tries to tell LaVaughn how alone she feels, like an astronaut in space sent out to repair something whose connection to the space ship is severed, leaving him floating in space.

Then she starts again. "See, even if they wanted
to send somebody after him, they wouldn't know
where to look.
He ain't connected. See?

"And even if he wanted to fall down, he couldn't.
Ain't any gravity to do it.

"He's just out there.

"Nobody knows where.

"See how alone he is?"
Jolly stands in the middle of the floor
and her arms are out like floating away.

At the same time, LaVaughn is forced to come to terms with some of the lemons in her own life, such as the long-past death of her father, an innocent victim of a gang fight. One of my favorite passages shows how LaVaughn's mother seemed to become both parents to her after her father's death...

What my Mom did is like a foggy photograph,
like one you might think you dreamed.
I don't even remember her at first.
At first when it happened.
She got huge. Like she multiplied.
I never figured it out, but she was big.

The book has a beautiful resolution, too, not just telling but showing just how both characters with each other's help have started "making lemonade."
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LibraryThing member bmozanich
Make Lemonade is an emotionally draining story of two teenagers growing up in public housing. Wolff’s descriptions of the setting and characters seem very realistic. The reader gets to know the characters quickly. The story told in verse is engaging and quick paced. Wolff paints pictures and
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develops the plot using a minimum number of words but without sacrificing any understanding or emotion. The reader feels empathy and admiration for the characters – the hardships that Jolly faces, the lack of hope or wonder that Jolly has after being given so many “lemons”, and the drive that LaVaughn has to succeed in escaping from the “projects”. While the ending is not sad, I was glad that Wolff didn’t make everything work out perfectly or easily.
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½ (276 ratings; 3.6)
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