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True Confessions of a Heartless Girl    by Martha Brooks order for
True Confessions of a Heartless Girl
by Martha Brooks
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTempest, 2004 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall seems to mess up everything she touches. She runs away from a decent home with her married stepsister to live with her boyfriend Wesley. When Noreen gets pregnant, she feels like she needs to run away again. Noreen steals Wesley's truck and money and ends up in the small town of Pembina Lake. She finds herself outside a rundown café owned by Lynda Bradley.

Lynda's heart goes out to Noreen, seeing her deep hurt. Lynda's own life has been a series of struggles and disappointments. Delores Harper, an older lady who has recently experienced the loss of her adult daughter, reaches out to Noreen and helps her to open up. Noreen doesn't know what she wants to do about the baby, but she knows more than anything that she won't make a very good mother. Can Noreen learn to love and believe in herself? And how will her sorrow affect others in Pembina Lake?

This is a quiet, contemplative book. Each character has a story. Though some are told outright, others are conveyed through action. Residents of Pembina Lake help each other figure out the answers to their problems. Noreen makes a lot of mistakes - from the big one of getting pregnant to smaller ones (feeding a chicken bone to a dog and accidentally setting a house on fire). She gets very discouraged, but eventually has to make a big decision - should she leave again, or finally face up to her responsibilities?

Although this is a quick read, you may want to read it more than once to get the full impact of the message - about love, friendship, and sticking together even when things seem dark. You will grow to care about the interesting people inside the covers of True Confessions of a Heartless Girl, and will be sad to turn the final page of a wonderful book.

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