Sunday, February 15, 2009

This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff (part 2)

Last week I just about hyperventilated when I learned that the final book in Virginia Euwer Wolff's Make Lemonade trilogy was out. And now I've read it, in a single bathtub sitting that lasted long enough to make my feet itch painfully after I eventually got out.

The plot gist: LaVaughn is a high school senior and gets into a rigorous program for underprivileged girls interested in medicine. She memorizes lots and lots of scientific things that are arranged poetically enough on the pages that I'm kicking myself for picking art over science way back when; Patrick (the old lab partner, remember?) is at a special science school himself and has access to fancy equipment at the university. Jolly is studying for her GED and cooking soup from scratch; Jeremy's in kindergarten and is already reading big words and announcing facts about insects. Then LaVaughn meddles a bit and figures out something that maybe she shouldn't know, or maybe she should, and it goes from there.

There was a little part of my brain that was thinking oh come on, this plot twist is just a smidge unlikely, but that didn't stop me from practically weeping several times, and mostly it doesn't matter anyway because these aren't plot-driven books. There are a lot more interesting and important things going on than whatever the characters happen to be doing.

It's really about how you have to be wrong before you're right, and how knowledge is power, and how if you stop and look at the things that no one else is paying attention to you could discover something important, and about how every sentence one utters must be understood as a question. And it's about how a woman's body knows how to give birth all by itself if it has to—literally, and as a metaphor that works for just about anything. Which sounds like it would be awfully preachy, but it's just so beautiful and lyrical that it's not; it's actually quite inspiring. A very satisfying ending for the trilogy. The whole thing left me wanting to be a better person.

**If you haven't read Make Lemonade and True Believer, by all means do. Immediately. But you could start with this one if you wanted to. I think it would stand perfectly well on its own.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    I'm writing from the public radio show "Think Out Loud" on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

    You might be interested to know that we're interviewing Virginia Euwer Wolff on our show on Thursday.

    You can find more information here, and you can also ask a question of Wolff. I might even bring it up on the air:

    Best regards,
    Dave Miller
    Online Host, "Think Out Loud"