True Believer

Virginia Euwer Wolff, Author Atheneum Books $17 (272p) ISBN 978-0-689-82827-0
Eight years after the publication of her groundbreaking Make Lemonade, Wolff has surpassed herself with this sequel. LaVaughn once again narrates in blank verse, but turns from Jolly's story (the unwed mother for whom she babysat) to her own. Characters who stood on the periphery in Make Lemonade come to the fore here, especially LaVaughn's mother and LaVaughn's two best friends, Myrtle and Annie. Opening as the heroine embarks on 10th grade, the novel immediately introduces one of the pivotal issues of puberty: ""Me and Myrtle & Annie,/ we all want to save our bodies for our right husband/ when he comes along./.../ There is several ways to do this saving."" Myrtle and Annie opt for ""Cross Your Legs for Jesus,"" a religious group with a narrowly prescribed outline for getting into heaven. With her characteristic intuition and wisdom, LaVaughn decides against this path (""It seems like a good idea at first./ But it doesn't feel right/ when I think about it""), and thus begins her solo journey to her own idea of faith. Along the way, the protagonist continues working toward college (with the support of her mother and some model teachers), falls in love, makes new friends and finds a vocation. With delicacy and sensitivity, Wolff examines the tensions that grow out of LaVaughn's decision to improve herself while leaving others behind, her choice to forgive in the face of Myrtle and Annie's intolerance, and her ability to trust despite a dangerous world. In delving into LaVaughn's life, Wolff unmasks the secret thoughts adolescents hold sacred and, in so doing, lets her readers know they are not alone. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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