In the 15 years since Virginia Euwer Wolff’s Make Lemonade was published, novels in verse have become a familiar genre, but Wolff was a pioneer and remains a master of the form. Interviewed by Roger Sutton for the Horn Book magazine in 2001, she said she wasn’t even sure that her writing was poetry, calling it “prose in funny-shaped lines.” But her free verse poetry was a perfect vehicle for her story of 14-year-old LaVaughn, who takes a babysitting job for down-on-her-luck Jolly, an unwed mother of two young children, and their relationship becomes a journey of discovering how to turn life’s lemons into lemonade.
Wolff won the National Book Award and a Printz Honor for True Believer, the sequel to Make Lemonade. Now, in the final novel in the Make Lemonade trilogy, three years have passed since the tale began, and LaVaughn is zeroing in on her life’s ambition to be the first in her family to attend college. She has been accepted into a special program called WIMS—Women in Medical Science. Science is her passion, as is doing good works for people, and she continues to babysit Jolly’s children, Jilly and Jeremy. But she makes a startling revelation and the scientific mystery she unravels will pull readers into the narrative as LaVaughn stakes her whole future on an act of conscience that could reunite Jolly with the mother she has never known.
Free verse poetry serves LaVaughn’s first-person narrative as a direct line to her heart and mind, carrying the energy and emotional truth of LaVaughn’s voice in natural speech rhythms. The three volumes of the Make Lemonade trilogy exemplify what the free verse novel can be, a perfect matching of form and narrative to tell a powerful story.
This Full House is a memorable tale of family, friendship, conscience and tenacity. Though this third novel in Wolff’s series can stand on its own, teen readers new to the story will want to go back to the beginning and live three years with LaVaughn and Jolly.