Wolff wrote this book all in free verse poetry, so there is lots of white space in the book which is visually appealing for young adults. The free verse poetry may be hard to get into at first, but once the reader is used to the broken sentences and voice of the writing, it's captivating. The novel also deals with a lot of issues which young adults deal with today.
Wolff tells the story of Lavaughn, a young girl in high school who picks up a job as a nanny for Jolly, a single mom who is her same age, with 2 messy children. Lavaughn has to face some difficult issues as she watches Jolly struggle to remain afloat. The novel deals with poverty, race, sexual harassment, single parenting, college, education and many other big life topics. The great thing is that none of the issues are too graphically depicted, so it's a safe read for those who are sensitive. For example, the issue of race is not brought up at all, but Wolff did so on purpose. The fact that the race of the characters is left out completely can become a lively topic for discussion. Many who read this book just assume that the characters are black. This is a good jump start for a discussion - Why do you assume the characters are black? Could they possibly be another race or culture? What does that say about the stereotypes we hold?
The free verse poetry is also a great chance for young adults (or any readers, for that matter) to become familiar and understand better poetic devices such as metaphor, simile, personification, and imagery. The novel is packed full of these devices which make the story truly appealing and interesting. There are such great descriptions of Jolly's sticky, messy house and her ratted-haired children.
It's also a great book to connect to characters and become emotionally involved. I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone
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