cover image Believe


Sarah Aronson. Carolrhoda Lab, $17.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-4677-0697-1

Ten years ago, Janine lost her parents when a suicide bomber blew up a synagogue in Israel; she was the only one who survived the bombing, though her hands were seriously injured. Afterward, the professor who dug Janine out from the rubble turned into an internationally popular minister, claiming he saw stigmata in the girl’s hands. Though she is publicly known as the “Soul Survivor,” Janine avoids fame and any belief that she is special (“No matter what anybody says, I am not superhuman. I cannot change the world”). After Janine’s hands appear to heal two gravely hurt boys, she begins to wonder at her own power. Aronson (Beyond Lucky) has hold of a compelling premise, but the many subplots can be distracting, including a friend’s quest to save a community farm and Janine’s desire to be a fashion designer. Her story raises fascinating questions about fate versus luck, and who has the responsibility to make a difference in the world, but the convoluted plot weighs the story down. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Sept.)