True Believer by Virginia Ewer Wolff

true believer book cover

Luminous Wolff pens her novel in lines of free verse that capture the flow of feelings and thoughts running across the psyche of fifteen year old LaVaughn, determined to go to college and grow beyond the socioeconomic class she struggles within.  A National Book Award winner, True Believer dramatizes the life of a strong student who dreams of something more than inner city obstacles.  Conflicts with girlfriends who try to escape the real feelings of emergency adolescence by retreating within a distortion of religious meaning add to her sense of isolation.  Difficulties in the relationship with her friend Jody lead LaVaughn to challenge her self-confidence and question her identity.  In spite of the emotional intensity of her strong relationship with her mother, she begins to lose her grip on reality.  Wolff creates her characters without identifying them with a specific racial group and thus suggests the universality of the barriers class erects for many young adults.  As the novel’s title suggests, LaVaughn will have to decide if she believes in possibility, in the hope that she can remain resilient in the process of coming of age.