There have been far too few films about the ways adolescent girls conduct their journey of self-discovery. My Girl 2 fills the bill nicely. In this top-drawer sequel to the 1991 box-office smash, Vada is 13 years old. She feels a bit extraneous in her Madison, Pennsylvania, home since Shelly, the beautician her undertaker father married, is pregnant. Vada has been asked to give up her room for the new baby.

Still unsure about her roots, this precocious teenager leaps at the chance to visit Los Angeles to research a paper on her mother, who died giving birth to her. Vada stays with her Uncle Phil, a mechanic who's living with his boss and her son Nick. This adolescent becomes Vada's guide as they track down details about her mother's life in high school and college.

Director Howard Zieff draws out a totally engaging and realistic performance from Anna Chlumsky in the lead role. Vada is a poet who is both playful and purposeful. At one point she asks, "How come boys talk all the time and have nothing to say, while girls have a lot to say but no one will listen?" Vada eventually finds her mother's ex-husband who gives her a surprise glimpse into her roots. And a tender kiss with Nick at the end of her trip sends her on her way rejoicing.

My Girl 2 celebrates one teenage girl's coming of age as she expresses her competence and her caring, her attachment to others, and her autonomy. Knowing more about her roots, Vada is ready to spread her wings.