Cover image for Make believe : a novel
Make believe : a novel
Scott, Joanna, 1960-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown and Co., [2000]

Physical Description:
246 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"Make Believe is the story of a family stunned by tragedy and the regenerative forces at work in the aftermath. At the center of the novel is three-year-old Bo, a boy who has been orphaned by the car accident that killed his mother. Bo becomes the focus of a fierce custody struggle between his two sets of very different grandparents. As the grown-ups play out their secret desires, hidden resentments, and stubborn selfrighteousness, Bo finds himself at the mercy of the fallible adult world. Whom should he trust? What should he believe? With a child's perfect but partial understanding, he flees into himself - away from the sea of strangers - where he inhabits a vivid inner landscape filled with the dreamlike intensity unique to the imagination of a child." "Moving between the points of view of Bo and members of his family, Make Believe explores the vulnerability of a child's developing consciousness, the profound interconnectedness of even the most imperfect humans, and the imagination with which all human beings invent their worlds."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Joanna Scott lives in Rochester, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Scott, author of The Manikin (1996), tends toward the gothic and possesses a keen sense of nature's seeming collusion in the machinations of fate. She is also fascinated by family entanglements that lead to dramatic and violent denouements. But it is the alchemy of the mind that most deeply engages her and that she seeks to reveal in her pearlescent prose. Here she camouflages her preference for the bizarre with a TV movie^-like plot involving two sets of grandparents--one black, one white--at war over the custody of Bo, their orphaned four-year-old grandson. Scott moves adeptly back and forth in time as she portrays Bo's smart and passionate high-school-aged parents and their very different worlds. As she traces the shock waves generated by Bo's birth and his parents' deaths, she uses his young and impressionistic mind as a lens to bring the various crises of faith his grandparents experience into sharp and telling focus. Make-believe takes many forms and serves many functions, Scott implies, but when love is true, believing just happens. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Unafraid to take risks, Scott (The Manikin) is a resourceful writer who explores new territory each time she writes fiction. Here she establishes a dramatic situation at the outset, and uses flashbacks to flesh out the characters whose actions will determine the fate of a precocious, wary four-year-old boy of mixed racial parentage. He is Bo Templin, whose stream of consciousness Scott enters as he hangs upside down, hurt and frightened, in the car his mother, Jenny Templin, has just crashed, resulting in her death. Bo knows he's a "shining brown boy" whose African-American father, Kamon Gilbert, died before he was born; he's been cherished by his paternal grandparents, Erma and Sam, but Jenny's own mother, Marge, and her stepfather, Eddie Gantz, have not made any attempt to see Bo since his birth. When Bo is released from the hospital after an emergency operation for a ruptured spleenÄa potentially lethal injury that initially went undetected after he was rescuedÄthe loving Gilberts take him in. But then Eddie perceives that if he and Marge win a custody battle for Bo, they could sue the hospital for negligence. Scott omits the court case, which somewhat undermines her story, because it seems unlikely to the reader that Bo would be awarded to his maternal grandparents; but this indeed occurs, on the assumption that a white couple would be perceived as more stable than a working-class black family. Bewildered Bo intuitively perceives that sanctimonious Eddie Gantz hates him; his attempt to escape Eddie's wrath leads to a stunning denouement, both tragic and redemptive. With stylistic gracefulness and technical assurance, Scott allows all the charactersÄincluding little BoÄto visualize their fantasies, capturing both their wishes and their fears in vivid imaginary scenarios. Depicting their emotional histories with empathy, she grants integrity to people trying to lead decent lives amid hardships. Her attempts to describe events through Bo's eyes sensitively reflect a child's innocent, flawed understanding of the world. This is a compelling story that will leave readers haunted by Scott's powerful moral vision. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

During his short life, preschooler Bo has been closer to more tragedy than most senior citizens. Before he was born, his father died in a street confrontation, and a scant four years later, Bo regains consciousness after a car crash to learn that his mother, Jenny, is dead, too. Almost immediately, Bo finds himself at the center of a custody fight between his grandparents, a battle made ugly by conflicts rooted in race, class, and guilt. The orphaned boy retreats inside himself, where his imperfect understanding of events blends with emotional trauma to fashion a strange fantasy existence. Bo's internal musings unspire him to behavior that exacerbates tensions among his relatives. Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner finalist Scott keeps narrative tension high throughout by shifting the point of view from bo to an assortment of quirky and unstable adult characters in this gripping, if depressing, psychological novel. Recommended for readers who don't require happy endings. For comprehensive collections of contemporary fiction.-Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib,Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.