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What is more beautiful than seeing a teenager unravel the mysteries of life for himself or herself and make the needed course corrections? In the early stages of this novel, things seemed pretty hopeless for some of the teens. It wasn't hopeless. There is always hope. And in scene 25, like the petals of a rose, a miracle begins to unfold.


Like, their hurt was the fire, and their anger was the smoke."
She forced a shaky smile. "But they love me, so it was kind of like they were sending smoke signals of love. I just had to learn how to read smoke signals," she laughed.
A few kids laughed with her.
Hope composed herself and said, "Soon after the card came, we began to come up with our Strong Wills here in the meadow. When I accepted the first two, I could feel myself changing."
She pulled a crumpled-up piece of paper out of her jeans pocket and read from it: "I will do right no matter what I think is wrong with my parents or guardians. I will be responsible for myself and not try to use my parents' or guardians' problems to excuse my own stupid sins."
Looking up, she said, "Our Strong Wills taught me that even if my parents were a mess, I'm supposed to be mature enough to do what's right." She waved the paper for emphasis as she said, "Well, I've changed a lot since we wrote these."
Then with delight on her face, she added, "But no one can brag about straightening me out. Our Strong Wills straightened me out. The Strong Wills are powerful, very powerful. They can change lives. They can make miracles!"
Hope fought back tears and continued, "I was in biology class one day, and the teacher was teaching that we inherit things like alcoholism. I have an uncle who is forty-one and has never grown up. A grandfather of mine was an alcoholic. After that class, I sort of gave up. I decided I was doomed, before I was born, to be an alcoholic or a druggie. I was so-o-o depressed."
She stopped a moment to keep from crying. Then she said, "It was our Strong Wills that lifted me out of that despair. They say I can do what's right no matter what is wrong with my genes. With the Strong Wills, I don't have to obey my DNA. I don't have to be a copy of some loser in my past and robot his genetic programming."
Kyong Suk offered her a tissue. The tissue seemed to give Hope permission to cry, and tears flowed freely. Her makeup got messier and messier. "To tell you the truth, my old friends made me want to change, big time. I discovered something very ugly about them. They are full of themselves, stuck on themselves. That adds up to selfishness, and I've learned that sin and selfishness run in pairs, like old people say about snakes. They say snakes run in pairs. My friends hurt me again and