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Viola in Reel Life Hardcover – September 1, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Viola Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–9—Viola's parents dumped her in the middle of nowhere. Well maybe "nowhere" isn't exactly true and perhaps "dumped" is too strong a word. As documentary filmmakers, her parents follow their stories. While they are filming in Afghanistan, they send their daughter to Prefect Academy for Young Women in South Bend, IN. Away from her home and friends in Brooklyn, Viola has resolved to be miserable. Her only comfort is in her daily IM conversations with her BFF, Andrew, and her personal video diary, "The Viola Reels." Then she meets her roommates, who are too great to be indifferent toward. Her constant video-camera-toting lands her on committees for school functions. To top it all off she meets a boy who shares her interest at a school dance. Suddenly, the ninth grader is happy, busy, and feeling at home. She even enters a film competition. Through the help and support of her friends and family, it could just be the short film of her dreams, maybe even good enough to win the competition. Viola in Reel Life is a sweet, character-driven story. Viola is very real, as are her feelings, hopes, desires, and dreams. There is not a lot of action, but the relationships portrayed in the book make it well worth reading.—Melyssa Malinowski, Kenwood High School, Baltimore, MD END


“A cold, snowy winter, a ghost mystery, kisses, cookies, roommates, a video diary, a film competition, and Viola’s crack-me-up-every time observations all make this an endearing coming of age story…exceptionally fun.” (Richie's Picks)

“A sweet, character-driven story. Viola is very real, as are her feelings, hopes, desires, and dreams.” (School Library Journal)

“This book reminds each of us that a fish out of water really can find a new pond! Read it to remind yourself that your friends really do teach you something new every day.” (Justine Magazine)

“Sarah Dessen for middle school…Trigiani deftly shows that teenage girls can be independent, have positive self-images, and be happy.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

“Best-selling adult author Trigiani nicely captures boarding-school bonding, adolescent female insecurities, and current teen trends. Fun, breezy, and full of subtle life lessons, this is a good follow-up or prequel to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.” (Booklist)

“Trigiani (Big Stone Gap) takes the familiar boarding school milieu and gives it some welcome nuance and a refreshingly grounded feel in her debut YA work. [She] offers a realistic look at the ever–shifting bonds of friendship and the adjustment to one’s first taste of life away from home.” (Publishers Weekly)

Product Details

  • Series: Viola (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061451029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061451027
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for fifteen bestsellers, including the blockbuster The Shoemaker's Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Lucia, Lucia; the Valentine series; the Viola series for young adults; the bestselling memoir Don't Sing at the Table; and her latest New York Times bestseller, All the Stars in the Heavens, an epic tale set in the golden age of Hollywood. She is the award-winning filmmaker of the documentary Queens of the Big Time. Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture Big Stone Gap, based on her debut novel and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. Big Stone Gap spent 11 weeks in theaters in the fall of 2015 and was the #2 top-grossing Romantic Comedy of the year. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Viola in Reel Life is the first book I've read by Adriana Trigiani, and it definitely won't be my last. Her witty writing had me laughing all the way through Viola's story, and I loved every minute of it.

Viola's adjustment to life in South Bend, Indiana fascinated me, and I was eager for her to fit in right from chapter one. The way she adapts and gives her new school a try really made me think about how I live my own life, and how new experiences can be good -- daunting, but worthwhile in the end. Suzanne, Marisol and Romy, the roommates she meets at The Prefect Academy For Girls, are exactly the type of friends I would have wanted in ninth grade. They're supportive, individual and, most importantly, unwaveringly loyal to each other. They bring Viola out of her snarky shell, and help her in her quest to become a successful filmmaker.

The boys in this book are both sweet and infuriating. Andrew, Viola's BFF from back home in Brooklyn, is brought to us through the use of IM messages, which manage to get his personality across surprisingly well. I hope he has a part in the rest of the series, as I really want to know what's going on in his head. First boyfriend Jared is one of those boys that seems great on the outside, but underneath, he's not all he's cracked up to be. I thought Viola's relationship was very realistic, and representative of a lot of first outings into the world of romance.

Trigiani has completely hooked me with this book, Viola's endearing Brooklyn background, and her ninth grade stint in Indiana. I heard that the next three books will all be from a different character's point of view, and I can't wait to find out what happens to this captivating group of girls, as they continue to experience new things and shape each other's lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Viola doesn't want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girl school in South Bend, Indiana. Her boarding school is far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. There is no way that she is going to survive a whole year here. She is going to miss her best friend Andrew and Caitlin. She now has to replace it with her three new roommates, who actually like it. Most of the time, Viola is hidden behind her video camera, but what happens when she puts her camera down and starts living her life.
This is the first book that I have read of Adriana Trigiani, but it won't be my last. Her writing was witty and amazing. I was laughing for most of the book. I was really glad that Viola adjusted to boarding school. Suzanne, Marisol and Romy were amazing roommates. They reminded me a lot of friends that I had as a freshmen. Trigiani was able to bring Andrew's personality and Jared was also interesting. I am definitely going to have to read her other books soon. It was a great coming of age novel and I really enjoyed it. I recommend checking it out.
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Format: Hardcover
When I was in high school and unhappy with my life as most teenagers are a time or two...I would beg my parents to send me away to boarding school or for the chance to be a foreign exchange student. Well, that never happened and if it did I certainly wouldn't have dreamt about a boarding school in Indiana (I always thought of Switzerland or something!)

Alas, this is where we find Viola... in Indiana at the Prefect Academy for Young Women. An especially hard transition, especially when your home is Brooklyn, New York!

Viola is definitely suffering from culture shock ...goodbye bustling metropolis...hello endless fields of corn! When she gets to school and decides to film the building and grounds, she later discovers a mysterious image of a ghostly lady in red in her footage. This isn't something she's really anxious to disclose to anyone...especially her new roommates who might think shes a little crazy.

At first Viola is resistant to bonding with her roommates, in fact she is dead set on getting a single room when one comes available. She just wants to do her time and then get back to Brooklyn and her best friends Andrew (so what if he's a guy, he still her BFFAA) and Caitlin.

I really enjoyed this book and I especially enjoyed how the main focus of the book was about Viola and how she deals with new friends, being away from home and focusing on what she loves to do best...filming with her camera. Don't get me wrong, I love the romance as much as the next gal (and we find that here in this story too) but its nice to have it be a side story with the main focus being on a strong female lead and the relationships she builds on her new journey.

Wonderful writing and a little bit of something for everyone, friendship, romance and even a little mystery! Appropriate for middle school and up.
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Format: Hardcover
As readers of my Adriana Trigiani reviews [...], I'm a big fan of her work. But given that I'm quickly departing the ranks of the thirtysomethings in favor of life as a fortysomething, I was a little nervous about how best to approach her latest book, VIOLA IN REEL LIFE. Unlike her previous efforts, Trigiani has written this novel for a young adult audience. And it's been (ahem) a while since I've been in that age bracket.

VIOLA IN REEL LIFE tells the story of 14-year-old Viola Chesterton, a talented and warmhearted Brooklyn girl who loves nothing more than to look at life through the viewfinder of her video camera. An aspiring filmmaker, she is less than thrilled when her parents, who are documentary filmmakers, deposit her in an Indiana boarding school while they head off to film in Afghanistan. A New Yorker through and through, she's convinced she'll die without the charms of Greenwich Village, Chinese food and her BFF Andrew. However, landing in South Bend may not be the end of the world after all. She learns that her three new roommates have quite a bit to offer in terms of friendship, and she finds that her skills as a filmmaker have an opportunity to shine in an upcoming film contest. She even meets a boy....

As with Trigiani's other novels, the strength of VIOLA IN REEL LIFE lies with its characters. Viola is fun and smart, and not afraid to take some chances in life. Trigiani's ear for teen dialogue seems pretty on the mark as well --- with the exception that Viola is a lot more comfortable with a first date/first kiss situation than I ever was at that age!

The pacing may seem slow to fans wrapped up in the Twilight craze, but this in part could be due to the fact that VIOLA IN REEL LIFE is the first book in a planned series.
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