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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Written in poignant and powerful blank verse, this National Book Award winner from Virginia Euwer Wolffe revisits the characters Wolffe first introduced in Make Lemonade. Now, LaVaughn, a 15-year-old teen who's determined to break free from her constricting inner city neighborhood, is starting tenth grade...and grappling with the distractions of first love, drifting apart from her lifelong friends, and realizing her intense desire to go to college.
Living with her single mother amid poverty and violence, LaVaughn knows that the only way to "make it" is to escape to college. And to get there, she studies hard, heeds her mother's warnings, and tries to be strong. Several teachers recognize promise in LaVaughn, and she is placed in a more advanced science class, as well as an after-school program to improve her speech. She also gets a job at a children's hospital, which ultimately instills in her a dream of becoming a nurse.
LaVaughn is growing up -- and along the way, she experiences a life-altering change when a boy named Jody moves back into her neighborhood. Once LaVaughn's childhood pal, Jody is now "suddenly beautiful" -- and LaVaughn can't stop thinking about him. However, her all-consuming love is unrequited because Jody is experiencing some painful changes himself -- and his actions will affect LaVaughn in many powerful ways.
The second novel in a proposed trilogy, True Believer is both a brilliant coming-of-age story and a demonstration of one young woman's courage to succeed against the odds. Both heartbreaking and redemptive, LaVaughn's story is a testament to readers that they should never lose hope -- or stop dreaming. A richly developed character whom readers will both admire and empathize with, LaVaughn thrives against the odds; she lives the words her teacher instructs her class to repeat: "We will rise to the occasion, which is life." (Jamie Levine)