Virginia Euwer Wolff impresses me with her ability to capture and express the needs, wants, temptations, fears, motivations, and ways of life of her fictional heroines.
True Believer is the second first-person fiction I've read by Wolff; the first was The Mozart Season, another great favorite of mine. Like The Mozart Season, True Believer is told in the voice of an entirely believable girl.
But unlike Allegra Shapiro, heroine of The Mozart Season, LaVaughn, narrator of True Believer, has so many worries in the present day that she cannot dwell on her past or the past of her family. LaVaughn describes her day-to-day life in the inner-city projects, a life so relentlessly hard that keeping her eye on her future becomes nearly impossible sometimes, in free verse so compelling that it reads like prose.
Even though many of the adults and students around LaVaughn realize that she has the intellectual potential to escape the environment that seems to be grinding nearly everyone else around her down, and even though many of them reach out to her as best they can to help, LaVaughn's success is never guaranteed. It is up to LaVaughn herself to avoid many compelling distractions, focus on her future, and allow those who see her potential to help her steer toward success.True Believer is book two in Virginia Euwler Wolff's Make Lemonade Trilogy. As of the writing of this review, I have not read the other books in the trilogy; the third book is not yet published.