- Believe by Sarah Aronson
Ten years ago, Janine Collins survived a bombing in Israel that killed her parents; at only six years old, she became a household name and a symbol for the possibility of faith and recovery. Interest in her fate has only grown since then, in large part due to the work of the pastor who pulled her from the rubble and has used the event to catapult him into a multimedia faith industry. The ten-year anniversary of the bombing, coupled with the increase of faith-based discourse in politics and media, has prompted renewed interest, and even Janine’s friends are trying to leverage her celebrity for their causes. Janine is unnerved by the attention, particularly because she’s not sure what she believes. She and her aunt observe some traditions of Judaism, but her experience with tragedy and opportunism has her questioning whether a God, especially a loving one, even exists. Meanwhile, her well-honed self-protective impulses are alienating her friends, who suspect her of playing coy [End Page 201] to keep the media intrigued and to shut her friends out from any benefits of being friends with a celebrity. Couched in a ripped-from-the-headlines plot structure, this is a weighty exploration of social responsibility versus individual expression and the merit of asserting your personal inclinations against a destiny that others have imposed on you. Fortunately, the heady issues are leavened with heart; readers may not always agree with Janine or even like her at times, but they will find much to empathize with as she navigates these tough contemporary choices.