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True Believer

by Virginia Euwer Wolff

Published by Atheneum, 2001
264 pages
ISBN: 0-689-82827-6

Ages 13 - 16

LaVaughn describes life at age 15 as "a whole mess of things, new thoughts, sorry feelings, big plans, enormous doubts, going along hoping and getting disappointed, over and over again." In a life already filled with the challenges of being a teenager and being poor, things become even more difficult when LaVaughn's two best childhoof friends join a closed-minded church organization, and the threesome starts to grow apart. At the same time, her mother begins a relationship with Lester, whom LaVaughn views with suspicion. At school, her after-school college preparation class is a fierce and heady challenge -- her teacher, Mrs. Rose, is determined that the students reach for the best in themselves, that they will "rise to the challenge, which is life." Above all, LaVaughn is consumed by her infatuation with Jody, a boy who lives in her apartment building, while barely noticing Patrick, her supportive lab partner in science. Eventually, LaVaughn will see Jody kissing abother boy and feel as if her world has been completely upended. But she will rise to the occasion, eventually arriving at a depth of understanding that true friendship requires in Virginia Euwer Wolff's beautifully written, emotionally stirring novel. The author flawlessly develops characters and themes -- of friendship, of love, of trust, of what it means to be a "true believer" -- with a stunning economy of language in this continuation of LaVaughn's story that began in Make Lemonade (Henry Holt, 1993). Honor Book, CCBC Printz Award Discussion (Ages 13 - 16). CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults; Understanding Oneself and Others.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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