Excerpt from True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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True Believer

by Virginia Euwer Wolff

True Believer
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2001, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2002, 272 pages

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1.

My name is LaVaughn and I am 15.

When a little kid draws a picture
it is all a big face
and some arms stuck on.
That's their life.

Well, then:
You get older
and you are a whole mess of things,
new thoughts, sorry feelings,
big plans, enormous doubts,
going along hoping and getting disappointed,
over and over again,
no wonder I don't recognize
my little crayon picture.
It appears to be me
and it is
and it is not.

2.

In the sex class we have to take by school law
where they showed condoms and scared us about AIDS,
they said, "Sexuality is the most confusing thing
about being a teenager." I am sure
this is correct
because I strained my ears to hear over the racket
of kids making a joke of the class,
waving condoms on their fingers,
hooting.
And also because the sex teacher said it four times.

But me and my friends Myrtle & Annie
say it don't have to be the most confusing.
There is math and other hard subjects too
and street murders right near your block,
even people you loved.
And also torment of being let down
by what you counted on.
Me and Myrtle & Annie could say 1,000 examples.

The thing to do is stay virgin.
Then you don't have to wonder if you're pregnant
or worry about being a bad person
or decide whether to have the baby or abort it
or wonder for the rest of your life
if the baby is healthy
in her adopted home. Or his.

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.
One is be snarly nasty to boys and not be their friend
and they will stay away from you.
But there is this girl everybody knows about,
she hated boys and men of all kinds
and one day she got raped just by going
to the discount store, she is a wreck you pity,
she slides her back along the locker doors in the hallways
and has lurching eyes.

Another way is Cross Your Legs for Jesus.
This is the club Myrtle joined, and Annie will probably too.
For the club you memorize Bible verses,
and in the club you will go to Hell if you have unmarried sex.
The club has many retreats and parties and fun picnics.
Boys are in it too.

The third way is never go anywhere by yourself.
I believe in my heart each of these 3 are not for me.
Be nasty to all boys and men?
No. I like them.
And it didn't work for that poor girl.

And Cross Your Legs for Jesus seems like a good idea at first.
But it doesn't feel right
when I think about it.
Does Jesus want that droopy raped girl to go to Hell?

And number 3 is trouble from beginning to end.
Never go anywhere alone? Sometimes I like to be alone.
To think.

I don't know how you recognize your own special husband
when he comes along. Will he look
totally different? Or does he look like everybody else
and you're the only one to recognize him?

I sure would like to get kissed.
How that would feel on my mouth.
How different I would be after,
a changed climate down in my insides.

3.



And another thing.
My mom sat me down last night and she said,
"Verna LaVaughn. You remember your college plans."
This was not a question. She used both my names.

"Sure, I remember." This is too offhand for her
and she snaps at me about my tone of voice.
She has radar,
can feel rudeness coming, also sarcasm
before they start.
Also fake tiredness when you don't want to answer.
With my mom you are alert at attention or nothing.

Copyright © 2001 by Virginia Euwer Wolff

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