Book Review: Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigiani

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PLEASE NOTE: This is a review for a sequel in a series. I try avoiding spoilers as much as I could, but I cannot guarantee that I could avoid giving out too much. You may jump to the end of the review to see my summary and rating. You can also check out my review on the first book, Viola in Reel Life.

P.S. I felt that this book was better than the first, and I think it’s quite a conundrum whether the first book should be read to be able to read this one. Although maybe it is possible to read this one without reading the first.

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 the Spotlight
Author: Adriana Trigiani
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Viola #2
Format: Hardbound
Acquisition: Bought

Purchase at: Amazon

I am in the midst of a conundrum.
Viola is finally where she belongs—back home in Brooklyn, where there are no khakis or sherbet-colored sweaters and people actually think her yellow flats are cool. With two whole months of nothing to do but hang with her two best friends, Andrew and Caitlin, this is going to be the best break ever!
But her BFFAA, Andrew, has started acting weird around her, and a new boyfriend has her friend Caitlin ditching her every chance she gets. When Viola’s roommates from Prefect Academy show up for a visit, she starts to wonder—is Brooklyn where she wants to stay? When a tragic event shakes everyone’s world, Viola realizes it’s not where she belongs that matters—it’s who she’s with that really counts.
In this heartwarming follow-up to bestselling author Adriana Trigiani’s teen debut, Viola in Reel Life, Viola just may be ready to get out from behind her trusty video camera and take the starring role in her own life.

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I got this book on sale and I was drawn to it mostly because of the cover. I didn’t even know it was a sequel when I bought it and I searched for the first book before reading this one. Honestly, I didn’t like the first book very much, but this book had higher ratings on Goodreads so I was quite hopeful. And after reading the book, I do believe that this book was a lot better than the first one. Although it didn’t really convert me into a fan of the author. It was a push and pull. There were parts I couldn’t care much about, but there were also parts I liked.

Viola was so excited to be back in New York after spending a year in boarding school at Indiana, and she had her whole summer figured out. But the whole plan started fall away as soon as she had arrived. But not all is lost as her grandmother gives her a job and finds her an internship to keep her busy. Also, her closest friends will somehow keep it all interesting as well.

Viola’s best friend Caitlin, who has overprotective parents, fell in love with a guy, Maurice, that would easily gain her parent’s disapproval. Caitlin and Maurice only have a limited time together because Maurice would have to return to England after the summer, and they both badly want to spend so much time together. It was hard on Viola because they used her to make excuses for Caitlin’s parents. Viola totally supports true love, but she also knows that it will be an even bigger mess if Caitlin’s parents find out how they’ve been lying and hiding things.

Her BFFAA (Best Friend Forever and Always) started to act weird on her. I’m personally not a big fan of best friends who turn into lovers because I know how it feels like to treat a guy best friend as a brother. It’s definitely not something I’m comfortable with, and there’s also the danger of ruining the friendship. I totally understood how Viola was apprehensive about the whole thing, and I felt sorry for Andrew because feelings aren’t something you can easily disregard. It was wrong for Viola to just play dumb about it, and then get insulted or jealous when Andrew mentions other girls. But I liked how she slowly figured things out (even though it was a little open-ended).

Unlike in the first book, Viola captures more of the different moments in this book with her video camera. I guess she’s better with just filming daily activities. I know that she wants to be a filmmaker and she was able to accomplish something in the first book, but I felt that Viola in the Spotlight was more a lot more personal, giving Viola a lot of opportunities to truly express herself through the craft she loves. One of her films even made me a little teary-eyed (or maybe the setting and the story also had something to do with it).

Sometimes I wondered how being a television writer could have affected Adriana Trigiani’s writing. It just somehow felt lacking sometimes, especially in book 1. There were scenes that could have affected me more or moved me more, but needed some oomph. I think it would work great on TV when you add all the atmospheric elements – music, lighting, acting, etc. – but you don’t get that in the book. All you have are the words to set the mood and characters and whatnot, and it might be just a little lacking sometimes. There was just this one important scene where she tries to make a stand that didn’t leave me convinced at all.

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OVERALL, Viola in the Spotlight is definitely an improvement from Viola in Reel Life, but it was unremarkable as far as contemporary reads go. I liked the whole idea of how Viola is able to capture stories and emotions through her video camera, and Viola’s summer was definitely interesting as she deals with her internship and encounters a few bumpy roads with her best friends. I just felt that the writing was lacking in vocalizing the right words or emotions to properly convey some important scenes. The good intention was present, but the execution needed more oomph.

RATING:

3.5-star

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Disclaimer:

  • 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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