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What I Call Life (Library)
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What I Call Life (Library)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  352 ratings  ·  83 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.
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 709)
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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...more
Miz Lizzie
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 2 of 5 stars  ·  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. =)
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.
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.
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!
A thoroughly enjoyable teen read. It took me about two nights to read it, but I didn't want to stop.
It was a good book, but I hated the way it was ended. It just pickes up and "Goes back to the beginning".
I love this book!!!! It was sssoooo good! It's mow ome of my fav books. I read it!
This book was a real delightful suprise.
Emma the Dork
soooo sad omg......but amazing.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
m1 Gwen
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
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...more
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...more
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.
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.
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
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
Lindsey S
I rated, What I Call Life, 5 stars because I wanted to keep reading it. The Knitting Lady tells a story about her life and she didn't metion it until the end of the story. At the end of the book, Cal gets to go back home to live with her mom. Cal lived in a group home filled with 4 other girls. They were funny to read. This book was easy to follow. I would recommened this book to anyone who likes action and who likes books that are easy to follow.
Bruce Coville produced and/or directed the taping of this audio book--which I found surprising. There's this piano music in between chapters and such that is SO annoying--at times like church music and other times like a jaunty sideshow band. The girls' voices are all very distinctive and interesting, but rubbed me the wrong way, for some reason. There's some good things to be gleaned from this story, but overall it was didactic and too corny at times.
Jun 14, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Julie
Shelves: juv-fiction
Cal Lavender is an 11-year-old girl who is sent to a group foster home after her mother has an "episode" at the library. She resists getting to know the other girls and is eager to get back to her "real" life. As she comes to terms with her situation, she learns about the Knitting Lady (the group home mother) and the other girls. I loved this book for the different characters and the way they interacted. I thought it was moving and funny.
Theresa G
When her mother, Betty, has an "incident" at the public library, Cal Lavender is taken to a group home dubbed "The Pumpkin House", an orange house in an otherwise bland suburb. Until Betty can establish that she will take her medication on a regular basis and take on the role of parent, Cal must stay with the knitting lady and the other girls. May resonate with other survival mode middle-scholers.
I read this because it had a "Knitting Lady" in it, but wound up enjoying the writing and the characters. Great "juvenile" literature, but as an adult I sometimes laughed out loud and could feel the range of emotions that these foster girls and their unusual, but wonderful, foster mother might be experiencing. Good writing by Jill Wolfson. I'd definitely read more of her books!
Kind of a cute little story even though it's easy to see where it's going from the beginning and some of the happenings are a bit far fetched. I wish the characters had been a bit better developed. They often seemed like they should be older then 10 and 11, but other times drove me crazy with how babyish they talked and acted. It didn't seem consistent.
What I Call Life is a precious story. The Knitting Lady's stories tenderly and magically broaden the minds of the foster girls staying with her.
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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
More about Jill Wolfson...
Cold Hands, Warm Heart Furious Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies Eén hart, twee levens Truth and Dare: 20 Tales of Heartbreak and Happiness

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