Last week while I was browsing in the YA section of my local bookstore, I came across a new book by Adriana Trigiani called Viola in Reel Life. I eagerly snatched it up and marched directly to the counter to buy it. There was no need for me to even read what it was about, as Adriana is one of my very favorite adult authors, and I was so excited to see that she’s written a book for teens. And just as I thought, her latest novel did not disappoint me at all.
Viola is a 14 year-old freshman from Brooklyn, and has the dry sense of humor to prove it. She loves Brooklyn, her school, her friends and thinks New York the perfect place to bloom into the filmmaker she wants to be. Unfortunately life pitches her a curveball, and while her parents are in Afghanistan filming a documentary for a year, Viola is sent away to boarding school in South Bend, Indiana to live. Trying to make the best of it, she throws herself into the boarding school experience by bonding with her three roommates, helping out with the school’s Founders’ Day celebration, entering a film competition, and experiencing her first love. In the end, her year at Prefect Academy teaches her about growing up, the value of friends and family, and the importance of pursuing her passion.
Adriana Trigiani has a way of creating characters like no other, and it is the main reason I love her novels so much. I don’t usually cry when I read books, but Trigiani, with the way she paints a character, can bring a tear to my eye. Viola is the kind of girl we all were/are to some degree, and I found myself rooting for her the whole way through. Not only can Trigiani create strong characters, her dialogue will make you laugh out loud. I found myself giggling many times while reading during DEAR time, much to the curiousity of my 6th graders! Finally, this book appeals to me because it is a “clean” novel. Teaching 6th grade is tough in that there are a lot of fantastic YA novels out there, but the content can be a bit too racy for my kids. However, this is a book I would be happy to recommend to any of my students. I can’t wait to share it with them tomorrow!