Shipped off to boarding school in South Bend, Indianna, city girl and aspiring filmmaker Viola Chesterton feels out of place with her three new roommates. Missing her life back home, Viola is tempted to hide behind her video camera all year. But first impressions are often wrong, and soon Viola realizes she’s in for the most incredible year of her life—if only she can put the camera down and let the world in.
Have you ever been so taken in by a book that immediately upon finishing it you wanted to scoop up every other title written by that particular author? Well that's how I felt about Viola in Reel Life. When I picked up this novel, I had never read any of Trigiani's other novels and didn't know what to expect at all. I ended up being hooked right from the start and I enjoyed every moment of it!
Viola was a fourteen year old Brooklyn girl who was plucked from her happy life in the city and transplanted into a boarding school in South Bend, Indiana. Being that I have never been to New York, I really appreciated the picture Trigiani painted about Viola's life in the Big Apple. I could almost imagine being outside Viola's brownstone, finding great buys from street vendors or hopping the subway to go into Greenwich Village with her. It was understandable why Viola would not want to leave New York - not only was there so much to do, but she had best friends Andrew and Caitlin to rely on for a support system. But Viola's time at Prefect Academy ended up being such an amazing opportunity that it made me wish I had gone to boarding school or studied abroad too!
Viola’s three roommates (Suzanne, Marisol and Romy) all had distinct, likable personalities and added a lot of energy and pizazz to the book too. It was so satisfying to watch their connections with each other grow into a sisterly type of bond. In that aspect, Viola in Reel Life reminded me a bit of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I loved the feel good vibe of all four girls being so supportive of one another, and I honestly can’t wait to see what's in store next for them all. Although she had a minor role in the book, my absolute favorite character was Viola's grandmother, the aptly nicknamed “Grand”. I loved Grand's theatrical background, numerous name changes and penchant for younger boyfriends or as she called them, her "soul mates”. She was a riot and added so much humor to the book.
Everyone at some point in their lives feels hesitant to leave their comfort zone and venture into the "unknown". Whether it's as a teenager starting a new high school or an adult taking on a new job, we all want to feel like we belong and have meaningful experiences in our lives. This novel reminds us that there's so much to be gained by just believing in yourself and being open to new friendships and possibilities. Viola in Reel Life was a fun, charming story about self discovery, friendship and love that both teens and adults can relate to.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (September 1, 2009)
Buy at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound
Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. She was raised in a small coal-mining town in southwest Virginia in a big Italian family. Trigiani chose her hometown for the setting and title of her debut novel, the critically acclaimed and bestselling Big Stone Gap, which was followed by the sequels Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and the fall 2006 release Home to Big Stone Gap. Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo were all instant New York Times bestsellers Adriana also teamed up with her family for Cooking with My Sisters, which was cowritten by her sister Mary, with contributions from their sisters and mother. The cookbook-memoir features recipes and stories dating back a hundred years from both sides of their Italian-American family. Trigiani's novels have been translated and sold in over 30 countries around the world.
Visit the Official Website of Adriana Trigiani