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WHAT I BELIEVE by Norma Fox Mazer


A Novel

by Norma Fox Mazer

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-15-201462-4
Publisher: Harcourt

A fast-paced verse novel chronicles a suburban teen’s nightmare: losing her most comfortable, well-appointed lifestyle to a bare bones existence in the city. Vicki Marnet’s 56-year-old father is laid off after 28 years in corporate America. Two years later, he still hasn’t found work and Vicki’s mother decides to sell off everything, get a job and move the family to an apartment in the city. After a brief stint of menial jobs, Vicki’s dad becomes so depressed, he leaves. While he’s gone, Vicki’s mom invites a co-worker to live in their already small apartment, kicking Vicki (but not her two brothers) out of the already tiny space she inhabits, which encourages Vicki’s final misjudgment. Throughout, Vicki relates every detail of her loss and difficult adjustment through a variety of poems, journals and e-mails. Adolescent readers might appreciate Mazer’s ear for teen language but they may balk at the persistently negative perspective through which Vicki views her life and the choices she makes. While Mazur is particularly effective in relating Vicki’s story through poetic forms such as pantoun and sestina, her character is too self-critical, has limited perspective and little depth. Mazur’s problem verse-novel becomes unexpectedly uncomfortable and one may wonder if the payoff comes to Vicki and her readers at too high a price. (Fiction. 10-14)