Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani (April 2010, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, ISBN: 1847389260)
First Line: You would not want to be me.
Review: Fourteen year old Viola Chesterton is sent from her home in Brooklyn to South Bend, Indiana, to stay for a year at the Prefect Academy (for girls) whilst her documentary-film-maker parents go on a lengthy assignment in Afghanistan.
Needless to say Viola is not happy at leaving her family, friends, school and potential boyfriend and initially is determined to be miserable. Fortunately her three room-mates encourage her to change her attitude and she finds that her skills with her camera may just change her life.
Viola in Reel Life is a heart-warming read, a feel-good book, a fairy-tale even. Contrary to what I was expecting, it's not full of conflict and angst rather it's just Viola growing up amongst a very supportive set of friends. At first Viola isn't particularly likeable but she mellows out. Whilst at boarding school, Viola experiences her first dance, her first boyfriend and makes her first film. These events are told at a steady pace, with no real tension, except near the end, but it's a very pleasant read. There is a touch of the supernatural that pushes Viola in one direction but it's very slight. I enjoyed Viola in Reel Life, and I'll certainly read the follow up, Viola in the Spotlight published next year, so that I can meet her New York friends which include her best friend Andrew.