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|Sun, 12-14-2008 - 8:51pm|
by Karen Hesse and Robert Andre Parker
Nine-year-old Juice Faulstich, the middle child of five sisters, plays a pivotal role in her family. She takes care of her younger sisters, watches over her pregnant, diabetic mother, and helps her depressed father in his metal workshop. Though plucky and resourceful at home, Juice has had a hard time at school: She's been kept back in third grade because she can't read. Feeling that she'll never catch up and that she's really needed at home, she is often truant.
Money is tight for the Faulstich family. Juice's dad has been laid off from his job in the mines and most family meals consist of jelly sandwiches. Worse yet, her dad, secretly illiterate, has just received a letter warning him that they will lose their house if he can't raise the money for back taxes.
Family love triumphs over these difficulties. Juice's sisters figure out a way to teach Juice her letters, and her mom comes up with a way to save their house. In the climactic scene, Juice is the only one home when her mother gives birth. By reading the sugar monitor to prevent diabetic shock during the delivery, she saves her mother's life.
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