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True Confessions Of A Heartless Girl [Paperback]

M Brooks
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2002
Seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall is on the lam, fleeing from her life. When she arrives in the town of Pembina Lake in the middle of a violent summer storm, she is pregnant, driving a stolen truck, and in possesion of stolen money. From the moment Lynda, the owner of the local cafe, pours her a cup of coffee, she knows this girl is in trouble, and she's right. In short order Noreen endangers the life of Lynda's son's beloved dog, practically burns down a cherished family cottage and turns the cafe into a shambles with her well-meaning renovation plans. But Noreen is also an ill wind that blows good. She is an unlikely heroine, a girl who shakes up the worlds of everyone with whom she comes into contact, and somehow makes them look at their own lives in a new way. And when she finally turns her eyes from herself to the adult survivors around her, she sees that one can make awful mistakes and heal from them.

Martha Brooks has created a shimmering novel about facing the truth and finding love and accepting change with courage.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

No wonder True Confessions of a Heartless Girl won the 2002 Governor General's Award for children's literature. Author Martha Brooks, celebrated for edgy young adult fiction that digs deep--including Bone Dance and Being with Henry--charts the waterways of the human spirit in this superb novel, which deftly walks the tightrope between fiction for older teens and adults.

Seventeen-year-old Norene Stall blows into the little town of Pembina Lake in southwestern Manitoba like a bad wind on the tail of a fierce summer storm and transforms the lives of those who try to take her under their wings. Norene is on the run after stealing her boyfriend's truck and a whack of cash, along with his heart. And she's pregnant to boot. Fiercely independent, stubborn, and probably the cause of more trouble than she's worth, she nonetheless worms herself into the affections of Lynda, the harried owner of the local café, and her five-year-old son, Seth, who she's raising on her own; 76-year-old Dolores, the oldest First Nations waitress in Manitoba, who has her finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in town but who can't quite get her own life in order; and Del a bachelor farmer and sometime poet who's deeply in love with Linda but afraid to do anything about it. True Confessions is a novel full of startlingly poignant insights into the rich inner lives of ordinary, yet always extraordinary, people. --Jeffrey Canton

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-At 17, Noreen has led an unhappy life, overloaded with conflict. One stormy night, she drives off in her most recent boyfriend's truck and finds her way to a rundown caf‚ in a small Canadian town. It is operated by a sad and impoverished ex-schoolteacher who is raising her young son, Seth, alone. Noreen's talent for trouble, fed by the fires of her careless bravado, soon surface as she endangers the child's dog by feeding it a chicken bone, and moves on to set a real fire in the bungalow she's been offered as a temporary living space. Flashbacks to Noreen's past reveal her rage at her awful parents, whom she hasn't lived with for years, and her depression and carelessness while living with her boyfriend Wesley. As Brooks knows how to show so well, troubled teens are not the only characters with problems. The adults Noreen encounters in this small town have nightmares of their own, reaching back to times long before she blew into town, and little Seth is truly at the mercy of the emotional storm centered all around him. Although Noreen realizes she is pregnant, and loses the baby within the very short time span of this novel, this is not a "pregnant girl problem story." Instead, it is a clear-eyed and clarifying look at the power of community, and the relative inadequacies of any one individual to weather the storms of life alone.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Teen Pregnancy Dec 29 2009
Format:Paperback
Noreen is 17, pregnant, and scared. Stealing her boyfriend''s money and truck seemed like a good idea at the time. But now that she''s reached the sleepy town of Pembina Lake, Manitoba, reality comes crashing down.

Everyone in this town has a secret, so it should be the perfect place to hide. But Noreen brings chaos wherever she goes, and soon, the town is turned inside out.

But can Noreen face her past and her feelings? Or will she, too, try to disappear in Pembina Lake?

If you are looking for a book about being a pregnant teenager, this is a pretty good choice. If you're looking for a fascinating read, I'd pass.

Brooks does a great job of portraying the emotion and angst that go along with teen pregnancy, but eventually, Noreen's refusal to accept help becomes grating. The pacing is a little slow for my taste, as well.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing! Oct. 2 2011
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Story Description:

She turned onto the main street -- the sound of the lake a whisper behind her, the leaves of the tall trees now talking overhead -- she saw his truck parked in front of the café and Wesley sitting inside it....
He didn't seem to notice as she got closer, his eyes closed as if he was concentrating on something. With her hand on her stomach, she steadied herself. The window on the passenger's side was open and she could see the distinct curve of his dark lashes as they rested against his cheek.
"Wesley," she said quietly....
She felt a hot sting of shame. She wanted to hide. But in Pembina Lake, beside a truck, in front of a café, wheat fields and sky flaming pink and orange and gold all around, there was absolutely nowhere to go.

In the midst of a heaven-rattling summer storm a young stranger blows into a small prairie town. On the run after taking her latest boyfriend's truck, with a pocketful of stolen money and a heart full of pain, seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall seems to invite trouble.

And trouble comes soon enough, as Noreen's new mistakes trigger calamities that shake the lives of the residents of Pembina Lake.

My Review:

Seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall is pregnant and frightened and not knowing what to do, steals her boyfriend's money, truck, and begins driving until she reaches the sleepy-eyed town of Pembina Lake. She soon discovers that everyone in this crazy town has a secret, for her, it's the perfect place to hide! But Noreen has a knack for stirring up trouble and it follows her wherever she goes drawing unwanted attention to herself.

This wasn't a novel that rated high on my reading list, cute enough, but not anything even close to serious literature and fiction. Unfortunately, this not the type of book that I would recommend to anyone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What, really, was left but this? Feb. 6 2004
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Here is the quote that begins "True Confessions of a Heartless Girl":
"The American novelist John Gardner, I think it was, said there are, really, only two plot lines: a stranger rides into town, and a stranger rides out of town", - William Least Heat-Moon "PrairyErth".
This book begins with the former. In it, seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall has arrived at the M.T. Café in a stolen truck, her pockets full of stolen money, and a baby growing in her womb. She has arrived in a small Canadian town in the middle of nowhere without direction or hope. Winner of the 2002 Governor General's Literary Award (think of it as the Canadian Newbery), this book is one of the most quietly moving pieces of young adult literature I have ever read.
Author Martha Brooks has created a small stirring story. Individual characters meet and mix with Noreen, showing their own private sorrows and disappointments in life. The girl herself seems to attract nothing but bad luck and trouble, and it's difficult to see how exactly she's going to change her life around.
This is not a story where everything slowly gets better and better for Noreen until, at the end, she's bursting with enough joy and happiness to fill her days. It's subtler than that. More realistic. And filled with beautiful well-thought out characters. Following in a long line of stories in which a single girl finds herself surrounded by occasionally understanding people, this book is nothing so much as an older version of "The Great Gilly Hopkins".
Moralistic parents beware. This story does contain a fair amount of swearing (though I was amused by the Canadian/British bad word "bugger" showing up as well) in addition to discussions of abortion and miscarriages. And I don't know how interesting this book is to kids and teens. After all, much of this story concentrates on the thoughts and emotions of the middle-aged and elderly. Not typical YA fare. But for any teen that is looking for a book that shows real problems without becoming didactic, preachy, or condescending, this story is ideal. There are no easy answers. Noreen isn't going to be saved by the kindness of strangers. This book deals with the truth and its ending is satisfactory in the extreme.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real and unforgettable. July 29 2004
By Teen Reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Even when Noreen Stall has the best intentions, it seems that she screws everything up. And when she makes so many mistakes that she starts to hate herself, she runs from the people who love her. When she runs away from her boyfriend, taking his truck, money and unborn baby, she finds herself in the small town of Pembina Lake. There she lands in the rundown café owned by Lynda Bradley, a single mother of a three-year-old boy, Seth. Lynda is struggling to make sense of a life that could have been so much more. She lets Noreen stay the night and, in doing so, unleashes a series of events that force the people in the town to take a look at their own lives.

When Dolores Harper, who has a gift for helping people, hears about Noreen, she decides to get her to talk. But while she is helping Noreen open up, she can't see that her "oldest friend in the world" might need her support as well. During her stay at Pembina Lake, Noreen makes many more mistakes, including accidentally poisoning Seth's beloved dog and ripping out part of the wall in the café while trying to remove the fading, ugly wallpaper. Will she run again, or decide to stay?

The characters you meet in this book are real and unforgettable. Watching them help each other along gave me a satisfying feeling.

--- Reviewed by Briana Orr
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised! June 2 2003
By Cameron M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
But I shouldn't have been. Martha Brooks is a wonderful author, and this book lives up to the high standard set by BONE DANCE.
I often have trouble sympathizing with characters like Noreen, who I sometimes find annoying. But this story drew me in completely and made me care about what happened to everyone. The characters of the elderly women were excellent additions to - it's not every day you find perspective like that in a YA novel.
I like bittersweet endings.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Crossover Book Sept. 30 2005
By Ciaramine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As I read this book in one sitting, I couldn't help think that this seemed to be more of an adult book than any of Martha Brooks other novels. Perhaps it was the many adults that surrounded the main character. In most young adult books the teenaged main character is surrounded by her peers, but in this book, it is mostly adults who help her to reveal her pain and to make a new life. Rather than be on the sidelines, the adults are front and center and we learn about their own sometimes unhappy lives.This is a good book for teenagers and their parents to share. A quick read with substance.

Try Martha Brooks' other books as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended July 10 2003
By Kelcony - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book was heartwarming and the main character, if sometimes annoying with her "heartless" behavior, is likable. Besides Noreen though, the author has interesting, 3D suporting characters: Wesley Cuthand, Noreen's boyfriend, and the many inhabitants of the town Noreen stumbles upon at the beginning of the book.
Very much like Where The Heart Is, this book is about a stranger who walks into town one day, and changes the lives of the people who live there.
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