Believe, by Julie Mathison, (Aug. 2020, Starr Creek Press), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-7350037-2-6
It’s 1980, and 11-year-old Melanie is a girl who knows she’s different. She doesn’t fit in; she occupies herself with games like Jewelry Factory, where she sorts through broken glass to find jewels. At Buckminster Experimental School, where Melanie is a fifth grader, the only thing she can’t seem to do on her own is make friends, so when she meets Sabrina – who reminds her of her favorite Charlie’s Angels character of the same name – she’s thrilled. Sabrina encourages Melanie to stand up against Karen, the school bully, and develop her self-confidence. She even lands the lead in the school play, Peter Pan! But Melanie has a painful secret that she’s keeping: from her dad, from her grandmother, even from herself.
Believe is a look at love, loss, and how we cope. Julie Mathison creates a main character coping with a terrible void – her missing mother – and can’t relate to most of the kids her age, adding to her stress. Julie Mathison skillfully places clues throughout the narrative that readers can use to put together the story within the story. With sensitive characters and a Peter Pan subplot that both ties into the bullying storyline and the overall story, Believe is a good story to give readers who like to really dig into a story.