Title: What I Call Life
Author: Jill Wolfson
About: Cal Lavender is perfectly happy living her anonymous life, even if she does have to play mother to her own mother a whole lot more than an eleven-year-old should. But when Cal’s mother has one of her “unfortunate episodes” in the middle of the public library, she is whisked off by the authorities, and Cal is escorted to a seat in the back of a police car. On, as she puts it, “just a short, temporary detour from what I call life,” Cal finds herself in a group home with four other girls, watched over by a strange old woman everyone refers to as the Knitting Lady. At first Cal can think of nothing but how to get out of this nuthouse. She knows she doesn’t belong there. But as it turns out that all the girls, and even the Knitting Lady, may have a lot more in common than they could have imagined.
Review: What I Call Life is a bit different from what I typically choose to read, but I really enjoyed it. The setting is very real and completely possible, which was nice for a change from what I normally spend time reading. This book is on the mild side, with more thought processes and life than fantasy books usually give. It makes you think and gives you a different side of life than many of you may live.
Cal is an interesting character for sure. She doesn’t seem to like believing what she doesn’t want to, and she’s very curious. Despite these qualities, Cal is surprisingly mature for her age and understands much of what a normal eleven-year-old girl would not. Whitney is funny, but plays with your emotions with her tough exterior despite what she’s been through. Amber seems like a very nice girl, if she was just willing to speak up more. I have to admit, though, the Knitting Lady is probably my favorite character.
There’s a really good twist at the end of the book that I did NOT see coming. Although I won’t spoil it, I’m guessing that most readers, if not all, will not guess it before they read it. It left a pretty good feeling in me and also made me want to do something to help all of the kids going through similar situations. The story that the Knitting Lady tells is quite fascinating, and I enjoyed reading the chapters about Lillian, the main character in the tale. It nearly broke my heart when Whitney was searching for her sister, bringing them all along on a late night trip through the town to try and locate her. One thing I wish they had included is what mental illness Betty, Cal’s mother, suffered from. It was really hard to tell, as even though they gave clues, there are many different disorders that are possible to fit under the categories.
Unfortunately, there were a few swear words, though for the most part they kept the language clean. There isn’t much else I can think of to say badly about this book.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, calm read about life. The age limit I think is good for this book is probably 11 or 12+. Overall, the good parts of this book seriously outweighs the bad. I suggest going to read this novel when you get the chance.