Saturday, November 30, 2013

Believe - Book Review

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In Sarah Aronson's Believe, 16-year-old Janine just wants to live a normal life. The only problem is, she's been part of a not-so-normal experience. 10 years ago Janine was the only survivor of a synagogue bombing in Israel. Both of her parents died, and Janine might have died, too, if a visiting American named Dave Armstrong hadn't pulled her from the rubble. Every day Janine is reminded of the bombing when she looks down at her scarred hands.

Now that the bombing's 10-year anniversary is near, the media and Dave Armstrong are taking more of an interest in Janine than they normally do. Janine can't even leave the house to visit her parents' graves without being harassed by reporters and photographers. Janine doesn't want the fame. Or rather, she would like to be famous but on her own terms. However, her friends think she should use her fame for something good, to make a statement, to maybe help them save an old tree from being torn down and the land being sold.

But Janine really doesn't want to talk to the media about ANYTHING.

Unfortunately, Janine's actions - or lack thereof - cause disappointment and betrayal, and Janine must turn to the people she doesn't want to for guidance. Is she a healer as Dave Armstrong says? Is she a fashion designer like she wants to be? Is she a believer?

I thought this book dealt with the subject of faith and loss in a very real way. While most kids probably have not lived through a bombing, they probably have experienced death and loss and the complications of having friends in high school. Some kids might even be struggling with their faith, asking questions that don't have easy answers.

While I kind of felt like Janine's friends in the book were a little bit on the rude side to her, making her do something that she felt uncomfortable doing and then calling her selfish when she didn't want to do it (even if it was for the good cause of saving a tree), I still enjoyed this book and think that it has a very interesting message. This book is recommended for ages 12-18, and I think the sweet spot would be somewhere in the middle of that age range.

Believe is published by Carolrhoda Lab, a division of Lerner Publishing Group. It is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

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