Sarah Aron­son
  • Review
By – February 17, 2014

All Janine wants is to be a nor­mal teenag­er. But when she sur­vived the sui­cide bomb­ing that killed her par­ents and many oth­ers ten years ago, peo­ple began to see her as a sym­bol of hope and faith. Each year, on the anniver­sary of the bomb­ing, reporters have flocked to her, the sole sur­vivor, now dubbed Soul Sur­vivor,” to cre­ate sto­ries of inspi­ra­tion for their read­ers. But Janine feels her rou­tine life is any­thing but inspirational.

On the tenth anniver­sary of the bomb­ing, Janine finds the reporters are camped out­side her house again, hop­ing to snag a sto­ry. Her clos­est friends want Janine to use her fame and pub­lic­i­ty to fur­ther their own caus­es. Even Dave Arm­strong, the passer­by-turned-hero who pulled her from the rub­ble after the bomb­ing, has shown up in town. Now a reli­gious leader, he hopes to con­vince Janine that her des­tiny lies with him. She is the one who will bring faith in God and His mir­a­cles to Armstrong’s followers.

Janine angri­ly rejects them all, cling­ing des­per­ate­ly to what­ev­er shreds of nor­mal­cy remain. But those shreds unrav­el when it appears she can heal peo­ple. Caught up in the reli­gious fer­vor that fol­lows, Janine begins to believe and maybe to fear that Arm­strong might be right, that this, indeed, may be her true destiny.

Believe is an excel­lent, fast-paced nov­el, filled with betray­al, hope and faith. Loaded with com­plex ideas that relate to cur­rent events of the day, it would be ide­al for book clubs or dis­cus­sion groups and is high­ly recom­mended for ages 12 and up.


Michal Hoschan­der Malen’s inter­view with Sarah Aron­son can be found here.

Mar­cia Ber­neger is a retired teacher who lives with her hus­band and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and sec­ond grade, as well as spe­cial edu­ca­tion. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Torah school, in addi­tion to her vol­un­teer work in class­rooms, libraries, and with var­i­ous fundrais­ers. She lives in San Diego.

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