AUS / UK edition

Faber and Faber

July 2005

$14.95 AU

264p pb

ISBN: 978-0571207022

fp February 2001

Book  of trilogy

follows Make Lemonade and 
followed by This Full House

US edition

Simon Pulse

October 2002

$9.99 US

264p pb

ISBN: 978-0689852886

True Believer

Virginia Euwer Wolff

from the book...

When LaVaughn was little, the obstacles in her life didn't seem so bad. If she had an argument with Annie or Myrtle, it would never last long. If she fell out with her mother, they would have made it up by bedtime. School was simple. Boys were friends. Everything made sense.

But LaVaughn is now 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 as if he's in love with her. Only he's not in love with her.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

True Believer, by Virginia Euwer Wolff, is the second novel in the Make Lemonade trilogy. This enticing verse novel was a national book award finalist and is one of three novels about LaVaughn, her family and her community.

LaVaughn knows what she wants out of life and will go as far as she can to achieve it.  She is a fifteen year old who knows what it’s like to live surrounded by a life of poverty and violence and is out to achieve her goals and not just be another inner-city statistic.  This transcendent storyline explores the values of a very bright girl who is finding that those obstacles that would usually disappear aren’t going away anymore.

Her world seemed so simple compared to most others but one day that all seemed to change. These small obstacles didn’t seem to go away anymore.  She is still striving to achieve the same goals, going to college and leaving her hometown but they have become even more challenging.  She was always good at ignoring the boys and studying hard. Then Jody, LaVaughn’s childhood friend, moves back into the neighbourhood and is now “suddenly beautiful... He could be in movies the way the parts of his face go together."  If LaVaughn's choices were difficult before Jody, now they're almost impossible.  What LaVaughn doesn't know is that Jody has difficult decisions of his own to make, decisions that could turn her carefully structured world upside down.

The experiences the characters in True Believer are faced with are very realistic.  Many teenagers would be able to relate to the issues within the novel, which makes this uplifting storyline intriguing to many young readers. It greatly appeals to a wide audience with its realistic storyline about the life of a teenager.  This is why I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good read and also enjoys a well structured verse novel.

Kate, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

True Believer is a book about LaVaughn and her life and follows on from Make Lemonade. The book starts by describing LaVaughn and her mum and how LaVaughn is trying to get Jody to go to the dance with her and to get him to like her. Jody and LaVaughn were friends when they were little but then Jody moved away with his mum. But Jody then comes back into LaVaughn’s life when his mum and he move back into the building. True Believer shows how LaVaughn feels about Jody and how he breaks her heart twice with just a kiss. It shows the struggles LaVaughn faces with juggling school, her social life, her job and Jody.

I really enjoyed this book because it deals with many issues that teenagers face these days, such as dealing with school, social life, work and also the future. I liked this book because it was well written; it is a quick read because it is so hard to put down. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to people between 14 to 17 years old.

Ben, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

“Do you still remember your plans for college, Verna LaVaughn?” These are the questioning words of a mother who wants her daughter to live a life of education, but most importantly, a life without everything she lives with now. Verna LaVaughn is growing up in a neighbourhood of murder and survival. The school has armed guards and students pass through a metal detector everyday. The only thing keeping LaVaughn going are her friends and everyone around her. Her life changes all of a sudden when one of her oldest friends, Jodie, shows up and La Vaughn falls in love. Her best friends seem to have lost interest in La Vaughn and Jodie; they are to busy with their club, ‘Cross Your Legs For Jesus’. LaVaughn battles her feelings, her friends and her school and just when she starts to get the hang of it, Jodie does something horrible.

When I picked this book up, I couldn’t it down. It covered a broad range of issues we as teenagers face. LaVaughn and everyone else seem like real people, with all their thoughts and interactions. It was easy to relate to everyone in the book and where they are coming from. The layout of the book made it easy to read, but the ending left a few things unsolved, leaving room for the third book in this trilogy. I think this book is perfect for early-mid teens confused about life and choices.

Sam, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

True Believer is a book that has opened my eyes to the world that is not my community. My parents grew up with the same experiences that LaVaughn  is going through. She is also like a duplicate of me. There are things in life that can cause you to lose faith and even wonder if there really is a God out there. Jody seems to grab my attention the most because I'm always wondering, "Does he like her?" The book just keeps me guessing. She also doesn't like to tell anyone that she likes Jody. I'm the same way. I seem to not trust anyone and I can seem abandoned by everyone else. I can actually see that not all people live like me, in a safe neighbourhood, go to a safe school, have a car, have both my parents here with me. I can see that many girls out there aren't feeling like I do. This book has changed my life.


True Believer is a story, told in verse, of friendship, love, a better future and a girl named LaVaughn. LaVaughn is a teenage girl growing up in a rough neighbourhood, where people have no future, and shootings, like the one that killed her father, are the norm. LaVaughn though, hasn’t yet succumbed to the life of those around her and believes that there is something better and the way to find that is by going to college. LaVaughn, though idealistic has other things on her mind; old friends are slipping away, new ones wanting to get closer, and a boy named Jody.

I thought that True Believer was a great read that kept me guessing and hooked all the way through. The book also had many different layers and if you dug down just a little there are quite a few good lessons to be learnt. The book also dealt with many real life issues but they were a bit of a hyperbole, but not so much as to blur the meaning being conveyed by the author.

I would recommend this book to readers above ten who enjoy a good book. The story I think would have meaning to many different people on many different levels, and everyone would take something different and meaningful away from this story.

Shuchita, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

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