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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Trigiani's Second YA A Little too Ho-Hum For Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for Viola in the Spotlight, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Viola in Reel Life.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

After spending a year at a boarding school in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana, 15-year-old Viola Chesterton is thrilled to be back in New York.  Brooklyn just feels right.  It's home—the place where people get her clothes, get her shoes, get her.  Sure, she misses her roommates from Prefect, but here she has her family and her original BFFAAs, Andrew Bozelli and Caitlin Pullapilly.  Viola can't wait to spend the summer with her besties, eating at all the restaurants she's missed, bicycling in Prospect Park, and sunbathing at Rockaway Beach.  It's going to be perfect.

Then, Andrew announces that he'll be spending most of the summer at a sleepaway camp in Maine and Caitlin mentions her new, full-time job at a dental office.  Suddenly, Viola's perfect summer is looking a little ... lonely.  When a cute British teenager moves into the Chesterton's downstairs apartment, she perks up—oooh, the possibilities—but Maurice has someone else in his sights, someone whose parents don't want her even going near a boy.  Before she knows it, Viola's summer has become a whole lot more exciting than she ever dreamed it could be, just not necessarily in a good way.  She's running interference for Caitlin and Maurice, interning for a cranky lighting director, and trying to figure out what exactly is making Andrew act so weird around her.  Viola's cracking under all the pressure.  She can't help asking herself some uncomfortable questions:  Was coming home the right thing to do?  Does she fit in in Brooklyn anymore?  Did she leave her heart—not to mention her true friends—back in Indiana?  Viola's going to have to decide where she really belongs.  If, of course, she survives what is turning out to be a very interesting summer ...

As much as I adore Adriana Trigiani's adult novels, I haven't loved the author's YA series.  I'm not sure why, since its filled with the same kind of warmth as her other books.  It's just that our heroine—Viola—doesn't quite do it for me.  She's funny, for sure, but she's also kind of self-centered and whiny.  Plus, Viola in the Spotlight doesn't offer much in the way of a plot.  So, while the book's entertaining enough, it's not going to stick out in a crowd of contemporary YA novels.  I really want to love this series, but it's more ho-hum than I would have expected from an author like Trigiani.  In the end, I found Viola in the Spotlight, like its predecessor (Viola in Reel Life) to be just okay.  Bummer.  

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for nothing offensive, just content most suited for readers aged 12 and up

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Viola in the Spotlight from the generous folks at HarperTeen.  Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry. There's nothing wrote like being disappointed by an author. :-(


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