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Other titles in the Make Lemonade Trilogy series:

True Believer


True Believer Cover



Reading Group Guide

As if the typical teenage struggles with friends, family and falling in love aren't enough for a person to handle, fifteen-year-old LaVaughn strives to rise above the poverty she is raised in, pushed along by her mother who dreams of her daughter being a success. Grateful for everything that she has, LaVaughn especially loves her room, which she refers to as "my own private territory complete with my special ceiling design." The beautiful tree and family of birds that LaVaughn painted on her ceiling on a restless, rainy day remind her of her dreams and express her talent in a slightly rebellious and private, yet beautiful way.

Written in verse as though the thoughts pour out of LaVaughn's heart and mind and onto the pages, this is a great book for reluctant young adult readers. The second book in the Make Lemonade trilogy, True Believer will keep readers' interest flowing and encourage them to read the other books in the trilogy. An emotionally honest book, readers should be prepared to think about difficult issues like religion, love, and relationships. True Believer won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2001.

Things to think about and discuss:
1. LaVaughn is grateful for everything she has. In chapter five she says "I am lucky to have a room of my own, instead of sleeping on a fold-out like Annie in her house." Yet even with a room of her own, LaVaughn and her mother live in poverty. Shootings occur regularly in their neighborhood and drug dealers invade her school. Why do you think LaVaughn chooses to show gratitude instead of being bitter?

2. Myrtle and Annie have been best friends with LaVaughn for as long as she can remember. Now that they have joined "Cross Your Legs for Jesus," LaVaughn feels left out, yet she refuses to join their group. Why do you think LaVaughn does not want to join their club?

3. LaVaughn goes to the Grammar Build-up class after her teacher pushes her into signing up. As she gains confidence and new skills, new opportunities are opened to her, and she soon begins to dream of becoming a nurse. What does this mean for LaVaughn's future?

4. Jolly has two small children and no husband to help take care of them. LaVaughn helps Jolly by babysitting, and as a result learns that life is very difficult as a young single mother. How do you think this situation influences LaVaughn's choices? Do you think she might have made different choices if she had not met Jolly?

5. Who do you think the title refers to as a "true believer"?

Kids' Muse Notes by Julina Mills
Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

chrissycmw, April 17, 2014 (view all comments by chrissycmw)
Although she's at that age that she could be my grandma, Virginia Euwer Wolff really understands youth, and the process of reaching reconciliation and true understanding with ourselves. In her first book of the trilogy, Make Lemonade, La Vaughn is 14, living with her mother (her dad died when she was a baby) who supports her decision to go to college. In True Believer her mother is given a higher paying job. She reminds her that she's doing this for her, for her big dreams. La Vaughn’s dreams are ones we may all have, and the journey they take her on isn’t without rejection, disappointment, and suspense. This book is cleverly split into four sections to indicate a bump in the road or a stepping stone. I really enjoyed how this was written in its entirety. Wolff is consistent with her ‘stream of consciousness’ style. Though simple to read and understand, her language draws you in with its subtle curiosity�"as the reader, you want to discover what La Vaughn is discovering, and ask the questions she’s asking herself. Again, though the language is simple, Wolff is very successful in her characterization and detail. She creates characters that pose opposition, and ones that you can easily relate with the teens you may have known in high school. La Vaughn, though hurt by an obstacle that presents itself later on, faces the choice to give up everything or continue forward. I was pleased by the ending, but am hooked! I can’t wait to get my hands on the last book of the trilogy.
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comment, January 28, 2010 (view all comments by comment)
best book i've read in a long time.
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Product Details

Wolff, Virginia Euwer
Simon Pulse
New York
Family - Multigenerational
Love & Romance
Conduct of life
Single-parent families
Children s-Reference Family and Genealogy
Edition Number:
1st Simon Pulse ed.
Edition Description:
Make Lemonade Trilogy
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
October 2002
Grade Level:
from 7
f/c cvr
8.25 x 5.5 in 8.05 oz
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Awards » Michael L. Printz Award Winners
Children's » General
Children's » Reference » Family and Genealogy
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Homelessness and Poverty
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Violence
Young Adult » General

True Believer New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.99 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Simon Pulse - English 9780689852886 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Wolff has surpassed herself with this sequel [to Make Lemonade]....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."
"Review" by , "[P]owerful....Transcendent, raw, and fiercely optimistic....A natural for reader's theater, this will capture even reluctant readers."
"Review" by , "When Wolff writes a book, it's an event. When she revisits LaVaughn, as she does in True Believer, it is a prodigious gift....Wolff unerringly reveals the inner depths of her heroine....[A] coming-of-age story with both bite and heart, which poses more questions than it answers but never runs out of hope."
"Review" by , "[A] heartbreaking story, truthful in its pain but buoyed by LaVaughn's resilient spirit and by a redemptive and earned ending."
"Review" by , "[O]ffers readers insights into the institutions and social relationships that shape the lives of inner-city teens....Though there's a heap of teen problems here, Wolff is adroit at expressing both the comic and tragic feelings of her young protagonist....A solid addition for high school and young adult collections."
"Review" by , "Wolff writes in blank verse, and as Verna tells her story, the reader moves in lockstep with her wherever she goes, laughing and crying, celebrating and worrying, wondering and deciding. It is an outstanding continuing portrait of Verna LaVaughn."
"Review" by , "Readers, whether they share LaVaughn's material struggles or not, will get right into her life and see how much courage she and her mother have to hope for a better life, and to work diligently to realize that hope."
"Review" by , "True Believer explores issues relevant to today's teens in an honest and sensitive manner. Virginia Euwer Wolff gives readers a moving, beautifully written poignant story, well worth the eight year wait — a story that makes us true believers in LaVaughn and in the tenacity and resiliency of her spirit."
"Synopsis" by , In this second novel of Wolff's Make Lemonade trilogy, 15-year old Verna LaVaughn is visited by Jody, a boy she knew as a child who comes back to the housing project where she lives. Jody behaves as if he's in love with her, but Jody is wrestling with questions of his own identity.
"Synopsis" by , LaVaughn is fifteen now, and she's still fiercely determined to go to college. But that's the only thing she's sure about. Loyalty to her father bubbles up as her mother grows closer to a new man. The two girls she used to do everything with have chosen a path LaVaughn wants no part of. And then there's Jody. LaVaughn can't believe how gorgeous he is...or how confusing. He acts like he's in love with her, but is he?
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