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What I Call Life (Library)

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  418 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
When Cal Lavender’s mother has an unfortunate episode” at the library, Cal is taken to a group care home run by a strange old woman called The Knitting Lady.” Cal is clear that this is not her real life, just a temporary detour. But even detours can take you where you need to be. A charming, funny, and insightful first novel. ...more
Audio CD, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Full Cast Audio (first published September 1st 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 859)
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What I Call Life is the story of Cal Lavender, an eleven-year-old girl whose mom, Betty, suffers from episodes. One day Betty has an episode at the library for everyone to see. Cal is forced into a foster home with four other girls and the knitting lady. Her mom is whisked away to a place where they will teach her to be a good mom. During her time at the foster home, Cal learns how to loosen up and let someone else take care of her for once.

This was an okay read. It was very didactic and the aut
Miz Lizzie
Jan 27, 2009 Miz Lizzie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 8-12 year olds
Eleven-year-old Cal Lavender's mother has an "episode" in the public library that leads to Cal being put into a group foster home. She has a hard time accepting that she has anything in common with the other girls in the home who all seem (to her) to have a lot more problems. The foster mother, known as the Knitting Lady, teaches the girls to support each other and recognize their individual strengths through storytelling and knitting. The story she tells is a historical one about the orphan tra ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Erika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are bord
Recommended to Erika by: the crazy media center women. o.0
So far this book tells the story of a girl who after her mother had yet another fit in public is whistked away to a home full of girls and one old women called the Kinting Lady... and right now there is no plot... T.T

Okay, so im finally done with it, and i have to say its an okay summer read once you have read EVERYTHING ELSE AND THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO READ... lol, but if u ppl like stuffs like this then go for it, not holding you back at all. =)
May 17, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cal is taken away from her (bipolar?) Mom after an incident at the library. She is put in a group home with other girls, knowing she was sure to be back with Betty, her Mom, soon. Slowly, she learns about herself, her housemates and the social work system. A bit sad, but just right for the age group.

Family booklist.
Oct 19, 2009 Debrarian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-fic
Cal Lavender’s mother had an episode in a library and now she finds herself in a group foster Home – a temporary interruption in what she calls life. Mainly features the allegorical tale told by the Home’s old, stuttering, wise patrona, the Knitting Lady, about her own mother’s journey on an orphan train. Rather clunky.
"What I Call Life" is about a growing youngster; her experiences and relationships with others in a foster home, even though she still has a mother. The characters - all girls - have hopes and dreams and plans for making the future a better place.

I recommend it highly, especially for girls around 10 to 14.
Jan 15, 2009 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-stuff
Wonderful book filled with quirky characters! The residents of a group foster home -- 5 11 year old girls -- are drawn together by the strands of the story spun out by the Knitting Lady. A lovely tale of finding family in surprising places!
Dec 11, 2015 Beth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting concept. Too many holes though. When the mom is taken away, where did she go? Why would they not tell the daughter what was happening or go thru more channels before just dumping her off at a group home? Spoiler-but why after she gets to go back to her mom doesn't she ever talk to the group home girls again. Really wanted to know more about each of the girls in the group home. The story telling by the knitting lady was interesting but sometimes confusing and then predictable...wish t ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Ma.cox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What I Call Life" by Jill Wolfson is a very relatable book. Cal Lavender, a young girl whose mother is a bit out of her mind has been sent somewhere for help. Cal Lavender gets put into foster care, her "Sisters" and her call it the "Pumpkin House". Cal and her "Sisters" fight and argue, but in the end they become SUPER close. I can relate to this book because sometimes my mom drives me crazy, and my sisters, but in the end we love each other and care for each other. I recommend this book to my ...more
Jun 06, 2009 Shari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly enjoyable teen read. It took me about two nights to read it, but I didn't want to stop.
Oct 26, 2013 Autumn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good book, but I hated the way it was ended. It just pickes up and "Goes back to the beginning".
Jul 15, 2009 Hanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-books
I love this book!!!! It was sssoooo good! It's mow ome of my fav books. I read it!
Aug 21, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a real delightful suprise.
Emma the Dork
Dec 28, 2008 Emma the Dork rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
soooo sad omg......but amazing.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2010 Evy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
WHAT I CALL LIFE is pretty greate. I liked it, but in order to understand its concepts and love its beauty you have to follow with the book. It takes a while to follow it and really get the storyline and plot, but if you're willing for the challenge then I guarantee you will at least rate this book three stars, as I did.

I liked this book enough that I was willing to give the prequel a chance. I found the prequel more adorable and pleasant, but in order to move on to the prequel you have to read
Nov 30, 2011 Gwen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book. I have mixed feelings about it, though. However strange that sounds, I do. It was written phenomenally from the perspective of an eleven year-old girl placed in a group home because of her mother's disability. Cal Lavender is very mature and she knows it. I like her spunk, although she's fairly conceited and occasionally speaks in the third person. It was interesting to read from that point of view, which is one of the reasons I liked it. Another is this: it shows th ...more
Cathleen Ash
Have you ever been embarassed by your parents? I don't mean - "aw, gee, don't do that" but a full-on, high scale, "I want to die and fall off the face of the earth" embarassed? Well, Cal is not embarassed by her mother, even though she's sitting in the back of a police car because of her. She and her mom were at the library when her mom had "one of her episodes." Now, Cal knew it would pass, the episodes always did, but the people at the library called the police. Now Cal's mom is on her way in ...more
Mar 01, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j, not-graphic, life, voice
Bibliotherapy - n. A form of psychotherapy in which selected reading materials are used to assist a person in solving personal problems or for other therapeutic purposes.

While not quite so formal an example, What I Call Life shows something like bibliotherapy in action through it's use of a story within the story. The book begins with Cal Lavender being taken to a house after her mom has had an unfortunate "episode" in the library that led to them both being taken away in police custody. Cal ass
Vishnu Brahmandam

This is a very nostalgic moment for me because I'm going through all the old Pennsylvania Reader's Choice Awards Nominee List (2008) and I know I read most of them.

This book:
WOW. One thing. This book gave me perspective. It was very special to me. Wow. I can't believe I remember this. I KNOW I NEED TO READ THIS AGAIN. Little me would want that. I just know there was something very important about this book.

Hopefully, I'll read it again
Reading Vacation
This book contained a story within a story. The Knitting Lady's story was pretty unusual and kept my attention. Lillian, in The Knitting Lady's story, was really a combination of the girls in the group home. She had a bit of each of their personalities in her. I wonder if The Knitting Lady just made up the story or if it was real. I think it was real!

The bigger story of Cal was sad at first - and you all know how I feel about sad stories - I don't care for them. BUT, I kept reading and was pleas
Oct 23, 2015 Ashlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-books
This is the first book that I read from Jill Wolfson. I think she did a pretty good job with the details. When Call Lavender finally went home, she gave a lot of detail about what happened after. I love books like that, they don't leave you hanging on the edge. Jill woflson puts you into Call Lavenders shoes, as well as the girls around her. Jill describes everyone and everything with a lot of detail.

What I Call Life is a very heart felt book. There is a lot of sadness. The knitting lady's pa
Jun 12, 2009 Kayla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Cals 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 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 wo ...more
Lindsey B.
May 02, 2014 Lindsey B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hands down amazing book!! I absolutely could not put it down. It is so sad and touching about a girl who has a mother that is suffering of some sort of mental condition, putting the girl into a foster home. This is an amazing book with an exceptional message.
In the audio presentation, the story came off a little more precious and dear than it might have if I had read it in print. The other girls Cal meets in the Pumpkin House seemed more innocent and untouched than their histories indicated.
Nov 27, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
WHAT I CALL LIFE is a nice silly book. An eleven-yr old girl, Cal Lavender, is taken from her mother and placed into a group home with four other girls her age. The woman in charge of the five girls, the Knitting Lady, tells the girls stories daily. Throughout the whole book the Knitting Lady is telling them this one story about a young girl named Jillian and how she was adopted and her whole life. As the Knitting Lady progresses more with her story you see how Jillian is like all of the girls i ...more
Sep 10, 2014 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very quick, easy read. It was the cover that grabbed me at the library - anything with knitting...

Enjoyed the story, but it didn't go deep enough for my taste.
Keesha 11-12
What I Call Life is a really interesting book. The story revolves around a girl named Cal Lavender and her new friends. Cal finds herself stuck in a foster home after her mom has an episode. Cal finds herself going through difficult situations. The characters in this book are very different than the ones in the books I have read. Each character has a special quality. If I was Cal, I don't know what I would do when I found out I was going to live in a foster home. Some chapters have cliff hangers ...more
Cassie Massaker
Mar 29, 2015 Cassie Massaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I never marked this as read, even though I rated it. It turned out to be a good thing! When I came back to check the description to jog my memory and was pleasantly surprised!

I was describing this book to a friend but could not remember the name of it! I enjoyed this book, and as I myself am learning to knit and crochet I think of the knitting ladies words to describe a piece of work. Some of my stitches are too tight, and when I remind myself to relax, it is better.

Anywho, I'm g
Faith Brooks
Oct 05, 2015 Faith Brooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book that I would recommend to anyone who is living life.
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Hello! I'm the author of novels for middle grade readers (8-12) and young adults.

Coming soon! FURIOUS. April 2013 from Henry Holt. The Furies of Greek mythology are rising!

My debut novel, "What I Call Life" and its follow-up, "Home and Other Big, Fat Lies" revolve around the lives of kids living in foster care. I'm also the author of "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" (Henry Holt, 2009). It's about sudden
More about Jill Wolfson...

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