Friday, April 22, 2011

National Poetry Month: Make Lemonade

Make Lemonade (Make Lemonade Trilogy)Make Lemonade Virginia Euwer Wolff

There are 2 poetry posts today because I missed one earlier this week (oops!)

I am telling you this just the way it went
with all the details I remember as they were,
and including the parts I'm not sure about.
You know, where something happened
but you aren't convinced
you understood it?
Other people would maybe tell it different
but I was there.

It's like a bird. One minutes it's picking up something
off the sidewalk
and you recognize it all together as a bird eating.
The next minute it's gone into traffic on the street
and you try and remember how that bird was,
how its pointy feet were strutting
and its neck was bulging back and forth
but its gone and you're the only one can tell
it was there in front of you.

This is like that.

Make Lemonade is one of the earliest verse novels*-- it came out in 1993.

Often, when I read a ground-breaking book, after the ground has been well broken and things have grown up on it, it's hard to see what was so special about the original. I just have to remember that if it hadn't been for X, everything else that has come since wouldn't have happened.

I did NOT feel that way about this book.

LeVaughn wants to go to college. She'll be the first in her family, the first in her building to go. Her entire life has been about keeping up the grades she'll need and trying to make the money for tuition.

She gets a job babysitting for Jolly. Jolly's 17, a high school dropout, and works in a factory. She has 2 kids LeVaughn would watch after school.

It's harder than LeVaughn thought it would be to balance watching Jolly's kids and her school work. Jolly doesn't know what she's doing and LeVaughn needs to remind her about basic things like buying new diapers. Then Jolly gets fired and can't pay LeVaughn anymore, but at that point LeVaughn's not walking away and will do whatever she can to help Jolly and her kids out.

I liked LeVaughn's inner strength-- not just in how she's pushing herself for a better life, but also in how, when Jolly loses her job, she stands up to her mother to continue doing what she thinks is right. She also struggles with her situation-- is it wrong to take money from Jolly to ensure that she will never end up like her?

AND, most of all, I love how LeVaughn knows she's better that Jolly, but Jolly still has a lot to teach her about the world and that even though they both live in poverty, LeVaughn has no idea how dark things can be.

A wonderful book that still remains relevant and popular 18 years after its debut. (18 years!!!! 1993 was NOT that long ago. Please tell me my calculator just lied to me!)

In other poetry posts this week, I reviewed Inside Out and Back Again, Karma, shared a song for Passover, discussed A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout, and reviewed The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba.

Today's round-up is over at Book Aunt. Be sure to check it out!

*you know, besides epics like Beowulf or the Illiad. ;)

Book Provided by... my local library

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Abby said...

Love love love this book! I first read it when I was a tween, probably back when it first came out. I loved it then and I love it now! One of the really interesting things is that LaVaughn's race is never mentioned. When I read it as a kid, I totally picture her as white, but when I read it in college I totally pictured her as black.

Books for Learning said...

Sounds interesting. I have only read one YA book written in free verse--What My Mother Doesn't Know. It was a pretty good read.