Book Review: Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani


Click on the image to open the book's Goodreads page

Click on the image to open the book’s Goodreads page

Title: Viola in Reel Life
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Publication Date: August 18, 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Viola #1
Format: Paperback
Acquisition: Bought

Purchase at: Amazon

I’m marooned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . .
There are four reasons why Viola Chesterton knows she’ll never survive her first year at Prefect Academy:
Her parents have heartlessly dropped her there against her will
She has to leave behind her Best Friend Forever And Always, Andrew
. . . and replace him with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there
“There” is South Bend, Indiana—Sherbet-Colored Sweater Capital of the World and about as far away from her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, as you can get
At least she has her video camera and her dreams of being a filmmaker to keep her busy. But boarding school, and her roommates, and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life. But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.


I think that there is a very good reason why these books are always sold at lower prices. The Viola series doesn’t seem to be much of a good read. These are one of the instances where the cover and synopsis make the book look better than the content. I actually bought the sequel accidentally when I was browsing brand new discounted books and decided to give it a try. Only, I stupidly didn’t notice it was a sequel. So on another trip to the bookstore, this first book was on sale for around $1 and I grabbed a copy. So in a way, I’m glad I didn’t pay for the full price, because Viola in Reel Life was kind of boring. The premise was pretty cool actually – a girl with her video camera. I just don’t think the book was captivating.

Viola Chesterton – a city girl who lives in Brooklyn – has been sent to South Bend, Indiana by her parents to attend boarding school while they shoot a documentary in Afghanistan. Viola is definitely apprehensive of the fact, and she spends most of her time sulking about the things that happened to her. I guess it’s perfectly understandable for a teenager to be like that, but sometimes it just gets annoying. I’m not particularly fond of Viola. She’s really selfish and quite judgmental. Her mom even calls her Princess Snark. I’m really quite surprised how her roommates were nice enough to give her second chances.

Some characters that were quite agreeable were Viola’s roommates and grandmother. I particularly didn’t like how Viola judged each of her new roommates so easily. They all turned out to be really good people. I like how they’re all so different from each other, yet they became really close friends. I like how her roommates were kind-hearted and caring. As for Grand, she was quite an interesting character. She seems like a really cool person even though she’s quite old. I bet she could easily pass of for Viola’s mother. She’s an actress and takes really good care of her skin and figure so she doesn’t look that old. And I feel like Grand is someone who behaves like a young person and be comfortable about it. Viola could easily share anything with her.

I was a little surprised by the paranormal parts of this book. Or maybe Viola is just really crazy and she sees things no one else can see. She sees something red and somehow it denotes a spirit or some otherworldly thing trying to contact her or connect with her or something. I’m not really sure, but I just find it a little weird to add that to this contemporary story. It’s a strange guiding point to make a film. But I guess stranger things happen? I’m not really sure. It was simply odd for me.

I was actually expecting something a little more personal for Viola’s videos, but not much focus was really given to that. Instead she followed the red blur. She also had an opportunity to work on a big school event. Other than those two and a few mentions of Viola’s video diaries, there wasn’t much of anything else. I guess she did a good job on the film she made, but I didn’t really feel much for it.


OVERALL, Viola in Reel Life was a little boring to me. I’m not sure if I was caught in a bad mood or if this book is just really that bland. I could see how this could be interesting with everything going on around in Viola’s life, but I couldn’t find myself to care that much. Also, Viola is an awful girl, and she’s lucky her friends and family still care for her despite her attitude. Maybe I would have liked this book more if Viola wasn’t at the center of it. Or maybe this author isn’t just someone I would particularly find enjoyable. Maybe I’ll find soon enough. But as for Viola in Reel Life, I just wanted to get over with this book. I still plan to read the sequel, but I’m not expecting much from it.




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  • This is all based on personal opinion, and as much as I’m open to other people’s opinions, I hope you understand that this is based on what I feel. I avoid giving out spoilers as much as possible, too.
  • I do not own most of the images I use, and some may be subject to editing.

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