Viola in Reel Life
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Genre: Youth Lit
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Challenges: YA (#15); Rainbow (V)
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library
Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 sherbert-colored sweater capital of the world. Ick. 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, disturblingly, 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 sh has to put the camera down and let the world in.
Review: I liked the easy style in which this book was written. The main characters are fun, funny, and have good conversations like girls do when they are living in a dormitory setting. Parts of it reminded me of when I went off to college far away from Santa Barbara. Adjusting to a new town, a new lifestyle, and new people is difficult, but fun. The author used IM-ing as a way for Viola to keep in touch with her BFF who is back in New York. I didn't have that in the 1980s...I think email, video phone calls, and IM-ing would have helped with the transition of living away from home for the first time.
I like the friendships among Viola and her three roommates. Viola is slow to come into the fold, as she really didn't want to be shipped off to boarding school.
While I liked the characters and the storyline, I didn't really believe that Viola and her friends were only freshmen in high school. They all seemed far to mature and knowledgable about avant-garde artists, film-makers, and old-time Hollywood movie types. I kept thinking they were seniors in high school or college freshmen. That said, it was kind of nice to read a book about high school that didn't involve drugs, alcohol, and sex. I know that stuff sells books, but there are also a lot of students out there for whom just hanging out and being with friends is their life, not partying.