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Summary and book reviews of True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff

True Believer

by Virginia Euwer Wolff

True Believer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

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Book Summary

LaVaughn is fifteen and big questions separate her from her friends. Wolff (author of Make Lemonade) unmasks the secret thoughts adolescents hold sacred and, in so doing, lets her readers know they are not alone. Ages 12+.

We have a multitude of obstacles to overcome here.
We'll begin.

When LaVaughn was little, the obstacles in her life didn't seem so bad. If she had a fight with Myrtle or Annie, it would never last long. If she was mad at her mother, they made up by bedtime. School was simple. Boys were buddies. Everything made sense.

But LaVaughn is fifteen and the obstacles aren't going away anymore. Big questions separate her from her friends. Her mother is distracted by a new man. School could slip away from her so easily. And the boy who's a miracle in her life acts just as if he's in love with her. Only he's not in love with her.

Returning to the characters and language she explored so profoundly in Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff rises to the occasion in this astonishing second of three novels about LaVaughn, her family, and her community.

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 ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

School Library Journal - Kit Vaughan, Midlothian Middle School, VA

Written in free verse, this first-person narrative is related in a conversational vernacular that tugs readers into the story. As LaVaughn progresses in her Grammar Build-Up class and recognizes the importance of proper speech, the language of the storyteller subtly changes. Grades 6+

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey

Peopled with some of the strong characters from Making Lemonade (1993) this credible narrative looks into the very soul of poverty and celebrates the family, friends and community that have shaped LeVaughn. Ages 12 to 16.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Kirkus Reviews

When Wolff writes a book, it's an event. When she revisits LaVaughn, as she does in True Believer, it is a prodigious gift. Ages 12-16.

Reader Reviews

Dont Want 2 Say

True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff
This is a book about a confused 15 year old girl. She explains what like is like through her eyes. I like that and I think a lot of teens go through this nowadays. Good job Virginia Euwer Wolff!! Love it :)

*Priscilla*

true believer
*I LOVED this book!!!* I have actually read it twice but I had read it 3 years ago and I could not remember the title, all I remembered was that I really liked it so when I got the title I checked it out right away and read it and it was even better....   Read More

Miss Lopez

wow
This book called true believer was really great for me..... Not only as a teenager and living in a small town but this book was really awesome just by reading you could picture everything that was happening [spoilers removed - ed] But what happened ...   Read More

LALALA

This was an amazing book, it really made me see what life can be like for people who live in such poor conditions. The thing that confused me was whether or not Jody is gay, that note on the flowers confused the hell out of me. When he kissed her ...   Read More

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