"Viola in Reel Life"
-Adriana Trigiani, 2009
Rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars
From front flap: Viola doesn't want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.
There's no way Viola's going to survive the year - especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.
Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.
But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.
Thoughts: This was the first physical book of Adriana Trigianis' that I've read (I've listened to a fantastic reading by Stephen Hoye of "Rococo" before), and I liked it. Didn't love it, but liked it.
I liked Viola - she was real, complex, selfish, and very teen-y. Then again, she is 14 years old. While she eventually stops whining about being in Indiana and learns to love it, she has huge "understanding" swings, going from a narrow viewpoint and being totally selfish to a total adult understanding of a situation in a page or two. Um, what? There didn't seem to be a lot of description about her comprehension of things, or even an "easing into" or "slowly dawning awareness" of things. Nope, just go straight from "Why isn't it about me" to "I totally understand my parents are adults who have faults". Um...okay then. Her very first boyfriend, Jared, was great, supportive, seemed realistic for almost the entire book, and then at the end he suddenly became some completely jerky douche. Again, what? It seemed like a weird "development" of his character. On the other hand, her roommates, and their respective families seemed more fleshed out and real, as did Viola's parents and Grandmother.
I did like that Viola was an only child, like me. There don't seem to be many only children in books, so that was kind of nice. There were a couple of times (especially one in particular) that were so accurate about what it's like to be an only child, that I wonder if Adriana is an only, or if someone she is close to is.
To be honest, I first picked up this book because of the cover. It's nothing special or fancy, but her shoes caught my eye. Well, that and the fact that the word "Viola" is pretty big and I played the viola for 13 or so years - you hardly ever see or hear much about the instrument, so I thought that maybe it was about the orchestra or something...it's not. All in all, I liked this book. Didn't love it, but I liked it. I'll certainly read Ms. Trigiani's work again ( I have "Big Stone Gap" sitting on my shelf to read), but I'm not going to rush into it.