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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 10 years, 9 months ago

22 June 2009 VIOLA IN REEL LIFE by Adriana Trigiani, Harper Teen, September 2009, 288p., ISBN: 978-0-06-145102-7


"'Hiiiiiiya!' Trish bounds into the room with her pink digital camera and snaps a photo of Marisol for the cloud on the door. She looks at the picture. 'Ooh, this is a good one.' Trish says. 'Hola, Marisol! I'm your resident advisor, Trish.'

"'Nice to meet you,' Marisol says, blinking from the flash. 'These are my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carreras.'

"Trish fusses over Marisol's parents as she fussed over mine. Trish speaks the worst Spanish I have ever heard. It's all choppy and she uses her hands a lot. However, Mr. and Mrs. Carreras are very pleased that Trish is trying. I watch as she skillfully puts yet another set of parents at ease. They must learn that in resident advisor training. 'I'll be right back,' Trish says and skips out of the room.

"'Wow.' Marisol watches her go.

"'I call her Trish Starbucks. She has more pep than a ventilatte.'

"'She seems nice.'

"'Oh yeah, she's buckets of nice.'

"Mr. and Mrs. Carreras look at one another, confused.

"'Forgive me. I'm from New York. I'm a little wry,' I explain.

"Marisol speaks to her parents in Spanish, and they laugh really hard. Marisol turns to me. 'My parents think you're funny.'

"'You know what I always say...'

"'No. What?' Marisol asks as she unzips her duffel.

"'If you can make your parents laugh, you can probably get them to buy you a car when you're sixteen.'

"Marisol smiles. 'I'll keep that in mind.'"


Fourteen-year-old aspiring filmmaker Viola Chesterson did not want to leave her home in Brooklyn and begin her freshman year of high school at a Midwest boarding school -- Prefect Academy for Young Women -- in South Bend, Indiana. She did not want to leave behind her Best Friend Forever And Always, Andrew Bozelli. She did not want to leave behind her crush, the best looking boy in the five boroughs, junior Tag Nachmanoff. But her parents -- who met in film school and work as a team -- have rented out their home for the year and are heading to Afghanistan for a film project. Being that Viola's mother, herself, had spent a lovely year at Prefect Academy back in the eighties while Viola's stage actress grandmother was part of a national touring company, Viola has been plopped down in Indiana.


"Indiana -- translated it's a Native American word for flat. Okay, I made that up."


Viola has been a well cared for, only child who suddenly and reluctantly has to share a room with three other girls in what feels like the middle of nowhere. While trying to adjust to her new surroundings, she must also adjust to BFFAA Andrew hooking up with a Brooklyn hottie and suddenly not being at her IM beck and call. But things begin looking up when she gains popularity by using her film savvy to bring the annual hokey Founder's Day stage production into the Twenty-first century. And then, like Cinderella to the ball (well, not exactly), she accompanies a busload of her schoolmates to a dance at the boys' school -- Grabeel Sharpe Academy -- and encounters a cute freshman with his own Panorama X12 around his neck.

A cold, snowy winter, a ghost mystery, kisses, cookies, roommates, a video diary, a film competition, and Viola's crack-me-up-every time observations all make this an endearing coming of age story that I really enjoyed from one end to the other.


VIOLA IN REEL LIFE is an exceptionally fun middle school read for tweens and teens, particularly all those out there who are experimenting with video or are into the dramatic arts. It is incredible how much author-filmmaker Adriana Trigiani shows us about the complexities of Viola's envisioning and producing a "simple" fifteen-minute video for the story's climactic film competition. And there are sure to be some great arguments between readers regarding what is said by one of Viola's schoolmates about how boys typically deal with competition versus how girls deal with it.


Richie Partington, MLIS

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