Sunday, July 1, 2007

What I Believe

What I Believe
By Norma Fox Mazer
Harcourt, Inc.
Reviewed by Nancy L. Horner

Weather Report
Mom, cloudy.
Dad, overcast.
Spencer, sunny all day.
Thom, possible storm brewing.
Me, unsettled conditions.

Vicki Marnet has the usual teenage problems, but she also must deal with changes in her family’s financial and emotional health. After the loss of her father’s job, due to downsizing, things slowly spiral downward. Unable to locate a new job, sinking into depression, her father can neither support his family nor even summon the energy to search for a lesser job. As the Marnet family’s means dwindle, Vicki’s mother tries to make light of their troubles while doing her best to find ways to cope. And, then Vicki’s father disappears.

Vicki’s refuge is writing; and, What I Believe is written entirely as journal entries, mostly in various forms of verse, with an occasional rambling entry. As Vicki’s family life crumbles and the Marnets are forced to move from a large house to an inner-city apartment, she must deal with each day as it comes. Vicki battles with her desire to be an honest person coupled with her embarrassment at the truth of her circumstances. When she impulsively chooses dishonesty, she and her family must all deal with the consequences.

What I Believe is an extremely short young adult novel, a mere 169 pages, some of which contain a single verse as short as “Weather Report”. Written with the sure hand of a seasoned, Newbery award-winning author, its brevity becomes insignificant. The content is stellar; the reader is easily entrenched in the roller-coaster of teenage Vicki Marnet’s emotional life. An excellent glimpse into the “what if” of a family dealing with a dramatic change in social status and income level and a quick gobble, very hard to put down. I’ll be looking for more books by Norma Fox Mazer.

1 comment:

Norma Fox Mazer said...

This is the author writing - thanks for really "getting" the book! I'll be interested in other readers takes on it.