Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani + Contest!

Pub date - September 1, 2009.

Three reasons why Viola Chesterton knows she'll never survive her first year at boarding school.
  • She has to leave behind her best friend, Andrew.
  • . . . and replace him with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there.
  • "There" is South Bend, Indiana, which feels about as far away from her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, as you can get. (book back blurb)
This book gets ten points alone for not being Tall Tales of the Moron Girls and How to Talk Like a Douche. There was literally a sigh of relief as I started reading this because it wasn't stuffed sausage-tight with so-hip-you-need-a-new-one slang and absolutely ridiculous situations.

But . . .

I started getting antsy, anxious, for something to happen. It was so boring and . . . ordinary. I can understand the realistic aspect to it and trying to make that kind of connection to readers that this could very well be a real girl anywhere having to adjust in a situation like this. But just think about it. How exciting is your normal, everyday girl going to school? Exactly. That's what Viola is.

The book is about the year in Viola's life where she goes to boarding school and has to adjust and learn a few life lessons. The thing is, it's so realistic it makes for a really dull read.

There's no drama. Well, next to none. And I felt that by the end of the book I should be holding hands with someone and singing Kumbaya or something. It was just so Brady Bunch uneventful. Hell, I think the Brady Bunch were more exciting. I mean, for a girl that's pretty much a loner and isn't the nicest of people to her roommates the first day of school, they sure seem to forgive her really quickly and they all become the bestest of friends. There's no head-butting with other girls, no rivalry, no normal social situations that real normal girls go through in school. It's like these characters existed in a love-in vacuum.

There's a hint of intrigue in the story but it pretty much stays that way. A hint. It leads Viola down this road to making her movie but it's just like seeing something in the right time and place. The only excitement going on around you when something like that happens is the epiphany going off inside your head. The only one that cared was Viola. And her Partridge Family friends.

The situation with Andrew was . . . meh. It worked itself out in the end. He joined in the Kumbaya sing-along. Jared on the other hand . . . well, it was another lesson Viola learned. Next time can we make these lessons something resembling compelling, please? Being steeped in ordinary is so BORING. I mean, they were good lessons and all but it was trying so hard to be realistic it ended up not being realistic. Does that make sense? No one goes through their freshman year in high school that easily, even with the "issues" Viola had. NO ONE.

That's not to say a book needs fantastical elements or ridiculous mememe drama for it to be compelling. But the lives of ordinary people are boring and shouldn't be written about. They need spice. This book would have been better with a modicum of tension and drama that actually exists in real school situations but it was so strawberries and cream glossed over that it eradicated it. It's like The Babysitters' Club on Prozac or something. Full House had more tension than this book.

The writing itself was a little awkward too. I know this is an ARC but a couple of things stood out that my gut tells me aren't things that are going to be fashioned out on the last copy edit. Namely dialogue and infodumping.

I have a feeling that dialogue isn't this author's strong point. They were all very stilted conversations and none of the characters really had their own voices. When one said a line, it could have been interchanged with any other character and it wouldn't have made a difference. I mean, not all teens talk like tools but most do use contractions.

And I really shouldn't say infodumping because that implies massive chunks of exposition which there aren't. What I'm talking about are things like conversations, or emails, between two characters where they would say things that are very obviously for the sake of the reader and not for each other. It comes off very unnatural. For instance, Cailtin, one of Violet's best friends from Brooklyn, sends Violet an email. In it she mentions her aunt. Seeing how often Caitlin talks about this woman, and how long they've been friends, Violet should already know who she is. But she goes into small detail about her aunt, "you know, first name, last name, what she does, why she's being mentioned." It's very awkward and very obvious that that information isn't there for Violet's benefit. She'd already know it.

And it really annoyed me when Violet kept saying South Bend, Indiana, South Bend, Indiana, South Bend, Indiana. The full city and state. Constantly. No just South Bend. And no just Brooklyn either. Rarely. Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn, New York. When you say Brooklyn, who the hell won't know what you're talking about? And what irked me even more, and this is something so minute but it goes against the grain of the character, Violet rarely called Brooklyn home. For how much she missed it, it was always Brooklyn, never home. That bothered me. A lot.

So I went from one extreme, Alphas, to another. It's not a bad book. It's just uneventful, which can equate to boring. Just think about how much you'd want to read the diary of your normal, everyday girl. Then again, I'm pretty sure your normal, everyday girl goes through normal everyday high school shenanigans which seem to be left out of Prefect Academy in South Bend, Indiana. Check your normal high school/boarding school at the door and welcome to Stepford.

Personally, when I read a book, I want something that's going to excite me, in one way or another. Not a boring girl's journal.

And what the deuce is with the boarding school craze? I don't get it. I live within ten minutes of two prestigious girls' boarding schools and every time I passed them when I was younger, I cringed. Now they're supposed to be appealing and real world "fantasy"? Stumped me.



CONTEST TIME!!!

You want to give it a try? Enter to win my ARC!

Leave a comment with your email answering this question--

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make in school?

No answer, no entry. Period.

+ 2 for following
+ 2 for linking (no extras here)

Open to US residents only, this one will end September 1st. Good luck!

36 comments:

Book Butterfly (Kim) said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make in school- hmmm...when I started 9th grade, my best friend from 7th and 8th grade that I was inseparable with dropped me to hang out with some "cool" and older sophmores and juniors.
+2 I'm a follower
+2 I blogged about this at http://butterflybookreviews.blogspot.com/2009/06/book-contests.html

Jake Lsewhere said...

Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.
+2 I'm also a follower via Blogger.
Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Kristen said...

The biggest adjustment I think was when I went to a day school for half a year and then came back to regular high school. I dropped some honors classes when I got back to make things smoother.


+ 2 for following

bittahsweetharmony@yahoo.com

Bianca said...

Well, last year when I started high school, I was new to the district. I didn't know anyone, I had to give up orchestra, the work was much harder! AND the fact that I got accepted into a private school for high school, only my mother couldn't pay the tuition. Those were my big adjustments.

+2 for following

infinitemusic19 at gmail dot com

DeNiSe MaDnEsS said...

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make in school?My biggest adjustment is finding out that the friends that i had were very diffrent than me a didnt really support me Having to make new freiends that matter was such a big adjustment
+2 Im already followe
Denie
deniseguzman682(at)gmail(dot)com

Sara said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make was after I took AP Euro in tenth grade. Previous to that class I never had to study or anything, but I totally got my butt kicked my Mr. Stoppa in AP Euro. After that, I learned how to study... and trust me, I learned quick! Now I can study and write essays like a pro! ;)

+2 linked to sidebar @ http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com
+2 follower

Thanks for the contest... though I'm a bit nervous because of the review. But, it is worth a try right?

grochowskis@hotmail.com

Stormy said...

I'm somewhat confused as to what the appeal of this book is supposed to be. I mean, there is the pull of the normalacy, I suppose...but what exactly is the pull of that? It might be a good for someone having trouble with their first year of school to have comfort in someone having an easier time of it...but then again, isn't it better to see someone actually overcome something big in order to make your everyday trials seem that much smaller and more manageable?

...

Maybe it used to be Twilight-lite, but then they took the vampires out?

Taste Life Twice said...

biggest adjustment? adjusting to my crazy yet lovable calculus teacher, Mr. Nguyen
+2 for following

tashiluvsu@live.com

Erica said...

I've never had a big adjustment to make - I've never switched schools or anything. But the biggest adjustment is when I kinda switched friend groups, I mean I still hang with some of my old friends but I don't feel as close to some of them anymore.


+2 follower

:) Erica
thebookcellar@wi.rr.com

barbrafl said...

+1 Commenting
The biggest adjustment I had to make in school was last year, when I realized that my history teacher was insane and gave us homework every night, as well as extra group assignments. I needed to completely refocus my goals for each class, knowing that this class would be the hardest, and still is the hardest, I've ever taken. Though, by working as hard as I did, I managed to get A's in both semesters!

+2 Follower

Thanks for the contest!
barbrafl737 (at) yahoo (dot) com

barbrafl said...

+1 Commenting
The biggest adjustment I had to make in school was last year, when I realized that my history teacher was insane and gave us homework every night, as well as extra group assignments. I needed to completely refocus my goals for each class, knowing that this class would be the hardest, and still is the hardest, I've ever taken. Though, by working as hard as I did, I managed to get A's in both semesters!

+2 Follower

Thanks for the contest!
barbrafl737 (at) yahoo (dot) com

barbrafl said...

Oh, sorry, mine posted twice somehow. Could you please delete one of them, as well as this one once you see it? Thank you. I must have clicked submit twice or something.

Jake Lsewhere said...

I've also blogged about this giveaway here.

Thanks,
jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

Donna said...

Stormy, I think it was meant to be a kind of "breath of fresh air" compared to like-minded books already out there. But it was just plain boring. It went too far to the other side in trying not to be like the rest.

Jenna said...

Thie biggest adjustment I had to make for school was basically giving up all my free time. I'm in Honors classes (Advanced Placement classes this upcoming year) which doesn't give me a lot of time to do anything during the school year or summer (you would not believe how much homework I have to do).

I follow you.

jennapomme@yahoo.com

adriennelizbth08 said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make in school was when I moved to a different school district.
+2 following
adrienne2093(at)comcast(dot)net

throuthehaze said...

My biggest adjustment was that for 6 years my best friend always had the same classes as me until high school...that was hard to get used to.

+2 follower

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Ninja Fanpire said...

+1 Well, I only went to Kindergarten and then was homeschooled up until high school. So that was a pretty big adjustment, having to go to public school somewhat suddenly after so long.
+2 Following
+2 Linked to contest in Blog post: http://ninjafanpire.blogspot.com/2009/08/contests_13.html

speckldharted22 said...

The largest adjustment I ever had to make in school was facing my two ex-bffs during the day.

speckldharted22(at)aim(dot)com

Anonymous said...

The largest adjustment I ever had to make in school was facing my two ex-bffs during the day.

speckldharted22(at)aim(dot)com

I Heart Book Gossip said...

Good friends are hard to make. You can only count on the ones you made when you were young. Thats the hardest adjustment I had to make in college.


+ 2 for following
+ 2 for linking
http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

Misusedinnocence said...

My last couple of years in high school i went to a boarding school. It was weird waking up in a dorm and not in my house. ;)

+2 I follow.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Ashley said...

The hardest thing for me so far in high school is the work. I take all honors classes and it really eats up at my free time. I feel like my whole life revolves around homework!

booksobsession(at)gmail(dot)com

+2 Posted on my sidebar at http://booksobsession.blogspot.com

Kate said...

I guess that would be my freshman year in college. I chose a small private college about 4 hours from home. I did not know anyone. It was a little awkward for a while.

+ 2 for following
+ 2 for linking
neverendingshelf.blogspot.com

neverendingshelf@gmail.com

YA Book Reviews said...

Biggest adjustment so far was when I moved to middle school and I had to get use to moving from class to class and not being able to see my friends often, that was a long time ago though :)

+2 follower
+2 for linking this contest
http://bookreviewsya.blogspot.com/
(on contests sidebar)

I really want to read this book! Great contest! :)

BrittLit said...

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make in school?
The biggest adjustment I had was in fifth grade. My parents divorced and we moved very far away and so I had a new school to adjust to and we had stopped being Jehovah Witnesses too so I had to adjust to being able to do holiday things in school and being the new kid.

+2 follower
+2 linked on sidebar
http://thelifeofateenlibrarian.blogspot.com/

thanks
teensatthelibrary[at]yahoo[dot]com

Marie said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make for school was spending more time studying -- I always found school pretty easy so it was a surprise to have to do more as I moved into high school.

I am also a follower.

marielay@gmail.com

Dani. said...

Biggest Adjustment?
It may be a bit of a cliche but adjusting to make new friends.
I'm in a lot more adavanced and Honors classes then my friends and i had to make friends that were actually in my classes.
In the long run, I'm sooooo glad I did. :)
Dani.
lightningstreak123@comcast.net

Extras:
+2: Follower!
+2: Linked to Sidebar-
http://danidlion.blogspot.com/

Book Sp(l)ot said...

+2 for following

my biggest adjustment was probably one of the schools I had to start when I moved...but I'm not really sure which of the, I think, three would be the top.....

book.splotATgmailDOTcom

Ashley R said...

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make in school?
My biggest adjustment in high school was that they banned cell phones. so i couldnt use my cell phone till the end of the school dya which was terrible, but i got use to it.

+2 I am a follower

Ashley
arudd908@gmail.com

Paradox said...

High school was hugely different from middle school, and I really had to learn to always be prepared and have a planned route to classes.

+2 I'm a follower.
+2 I linked on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ParadoxRevealed/status/3675834461

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

katie said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make in school was moving from a small school to a big school. I had to learn how to walk a lot faster to be able to get to all my classes on time especially when some were out in portable classrooms while they finished adding on to the school. Oh it was a nightmare but I eventually adjusted. =]

+2 follower

katieb206@gmail.om

Mary Ann DeBorde said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

The biggest adjustment/hurdle for me was my dad remarrying in the middle of the school year. I had to adjust to new stepsisters, a new bus & group of kids, everything was tense & upsetting for a little while.
But I survived to tell the tale LOL

Mary Ann DeBorde said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

I just signed up to Follow :)

Andrea said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make in school was probably when I went off to college, I gained so much freedom it was scary. I had to learn how to handle the freedom and enjoy myself while still getting my work done and keeping my grades up

andie.v107(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sarbear said...

The biggest adjustment I had to make in school was managing my time -- I had so many more people who wanted to hang out with me and things to do, but I had even more homework. It was quite an adjustment managing it.

+ 2 for following

geekettesarbear(at)yahoo(dot)com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
Blog designed by TwispiredBlogdesign using MK Design's TeaTime kit.