School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 8 Up-The third verse novel finds narrator LaVaughn in her senior year of high school. She is still determined to have a career in the sciences, despite the fact that her underfunded public school has run-down lab equipment, the teens in her neighborhood never consider higher education, and her subtle but persistent belief that those who succeed are somehow fundamentally better than she is. Characters from the previous books are reintroduced. Jolly, the young mother for whom LaVaughn has become a babysitter and near kin, is working on her GED and dating a man who seems willing to stick around. Annie, LaVaughn's hyperreligious childhood friend, has become pregnant by her hypocritical youth group leader. Awkward Patrick, with whom LaVaughn studied science during the summer, earns her jealousy by attending a new school with access to the university's state-of-the-art facilities. LaVaughn also faces a new challenge when she is accepted into Women in Medical Science, a local hospital's rigorous after-school enrichment program for underprivileged girls. Wolff's language is rich and poetic, using scientific words like "tibia" and "deoxyriboneucleic acid" to both intellectual and aesthetic effect. LaVaughn's emotions, from fear to joy to disbelief, are palpable and realistic. The story falters a bit when a major plot contrivance strains credibility and diminishes what is otherwise an inspiring, relatable tale of perseverance, forgiveness, and family.-Megan Honig, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.