Saturday, November 7, 2009

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani.

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani.
First in a Series
Young Adult, 288 pages
Published September 1, 2009 by HarperTeen

'I'm marooned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . . '

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. - from

I feel like maybe I am being too harsh to these poor books. I mean, three 2-star reviews in a row? Better reviews books will be coming shortly, I promise. To be honest, Viola in Reel Life is not my typical sort of book. On a friend's recommendation, I thought I would branch out a little because isn't the best sort of reading done outside our comfort zone's? Well, I tried. Viola is a perfectly nice book, with an ordinary story true to life and all that. I just like a little more surrealism and fantasy in my books, so it didn't do much for me.

I felt like a had a connection with Viola before I even started reading the book. I am from Indiana, so I now how being dumped in Indiana feels. I'm more like trapped here, but that's a different story. Just kidding! I love Indiana (Go Who's Ears!). The fact that this book was set in Indiana made it attractive to me in the first place. Books set in this state are few and far between let me tell you. Viola also gets corralled into attending a boarding school. Freshman year, I started to attend a private school that I was less than happy about going to, but my parents 'strongly encouraged it.' So I could definately understand where Viola was coming from when she was distant from her new room mates. It took me a while to make new friends at my school, just because I was so persistent on not liking them. But I feel like the author missed one crucial aspect of a prestigious girl's school: the uniforms! I would have like to see her write some little funny things about them. We complain about them enough at my school to fill a whole novel.

Throughtout the story, Viola sees a reappearing image of a young woman dressed in clothes from the 1930's (about that time, I don't remember exactly). She believes this is a ghost but isn't quite sure and gets opinions on the subject from some of her friends. The ghost story integrated throughtout the plot blindsided me. I did not see a ghost being any part of this story, and even when she first showed up I thought she was just going to be some minor elemenet. It wasn't anywhere on the back of the book, and the back of the book never lies! I think it was a nice blurb to add. It might sound strange to put in a book about a girl growing up, but it didn't take away from the book at all. It was really more about how she acted once she learned about this ghost woman, than about her interacting with her.

Little inconsistencies in Viola bothered the perfectionist inside me. Like in the beginning of the story when Viola is reading MacBeth in English class, they have to write a paper on the belief in ghosts or something like that. A friend asks Viola if she believes in ghost, and she says yes. But then towards the end, she says that she is too practical to believe in ghosts, even though her and her friend have been worried about whether this woman Viola is seeing is real or not. Not that big of a deal, but it concerns Viola's belief in a major part of the plot. And Viola muses about how she wishes her skin was like he mother's, who spends all the time on her skins and not her hair, then her Grand visits and Viola remembers that her mother never spends time on her skin (?). The conversations were unrealistic as well. Nobody talked like they would in real life. The teenage girls Viola roomed with, and Viola herself, were way too candid when they talked. NO teenage girl is that honest, especially with someone she just met who is acting like a witch to her. I could see maybe one character being this (maybe Marisol), acting as the center of truth to bring the other girls out of their cattiness, but all of them is not believable.

Viola in Reel Life was a sweet, relaxing, feel better about life sort of story. I did enjoy it, much more so than Betraying and Bewitching Season, just because the writing and characters were much better written. However, the plot was too drab for me; I need a little more action in my real life stories. Although they wouldn't be very real anymore, would they?

Reviewing Next: The Claidi Journals series by Tanith Lee.

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