Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Viola in Reel Life

Viola in Reel Life
Viola in Reel Life

I found this among the Nutmeg Teen Nominees for this year. You can often say about Newbery Award books that they're picked by adults and so appealing to adults, even though they're kids' books. Not so with the Nutmeg books. The nominees and the winners are chosen by kids, and I think it shows. Sometimes, like in this case, the book is a little trite and seems like it's pandering. I don't like the way the protagonist names clothing brands, as if I care and know what she's talking about. It doesn't make me relate to the character, and because little else does, I have trouble caring what happens in the plot.

Viola is spending a year at boarding school while her parents go to Afghanistan to film a documentary. In their footsteps, Viola is a budding filmmaker, and during her year she makes her first short film, about a 1920s/30s actress with great potential, but whose career is tragically cut short before she can reach it. Along the way, Viola deals with the shock of being away from her parents and friends, making new friends, and acquiring a boyfriend.

It's a decent story (especially once it lets go of the supernatural "woman in red" crap), and despite the one-dimensional characters, I think it's relatively well-told. What's missing is that Newbery Award symbolism. If it were a Newbery book, the actress' life would more clearly relate to Viola's. Maybe instead of tragedy ending her career, it would be a choice she made, and Viola would be faced with a similar one. Whatever. All I'm saying is that it's a decent read, but nothing special.

No comments:

Post a Comment