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FICTION

Believe

Starr Creek. Aug. 2020. 232p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781735003702.
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Gr 4-6–Eleven-year-old Melanie is relatively new to her experimental school, having moved with her artist father after her mother disappeared almost a year ago. She’s uncomfortable calling her teachers by their first names, and is apparently friendless until Sabrina appears. The year is 1980 and Melanie’s favorite show is Charlie’s Angels. Her favorite angel is Sabrina; this coincidence makes Melanie think she has found her best friend. Sabrina is fearless, much like her television namesake. She gives Melanie the words to stand up to her bully, Karen, as well as the courage to audition for the part of Peter in the school’s production of Peter Pan. Moving house, an absent parent, and bully problems are well-trod motifs in middle grade literature, but the connection Melanie feels to the themes in Peter Pan sets this story apart. It’s her favorite book, mostly because her mother read it to her and the two often reenacted it. Melanie’s voice is engaging, if overly fond of similes and metaphors. The use of figurative language in this first-person narrative can feel excessive, affecting the flow of the narrative in a way that might distract young readers.
VERDICT Thoughtful tween readers who can’t get enough books about introspective, lonely tweens may figure things out before the denouement, but will appreciate Melanie’s emotional journey.

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