Viola in Reel Life

Viola in Reel Life

by Adriana Trigiani


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061451041
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/01/2011
Series: Viola , #1
Pages: 282
Sales rank: 546,725
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of seventeen books, which have been published in thirty-six countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer, and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is cofounder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than one thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Viola in Reel LifeChapter One

You would not want to be me.


I'm marooned. Abandoned. Left to rot in boarding school in the dust bowl of Indiana like the potato we found in the cupboard in our kitchen in Brooklyn after months of searching for it. It was only when the entire kitchen began to smell like a root cellar from Pilgrim days that we figured out why...and when we finally found the potato it was soft, rotten, and breeding itself with white barnacles with totally disgusting green tips.

Consider me missing. Like the potato.

I only hope it doesn't take an entire year for people to miss me as much as I can already tell that I'm going to miss them. And if I'm not good at explaining it in words, well, there's always my movie camera. I do better with film anyhow. Images. Moving pictures.

I flip the latch off the lens and look into the view finder, and press Record.

"I'm in South Bend, Indiana, on September third, 2009."

With my hand securing the camera and my eye behind the lens, I turn.

Through my lens, I slowly drink in three old brick buildings: Curley Kerner Hall is the dormitory where I'll be living, Phyllis Hobson Jones Hall (called Hojo for short, according to my resident advisor) is the theater with art studios on the basement floor, and Geier-Kirshenbaum is the classroom building. The Chandler Gym, a modern building that looks like a Moonwalk carnival ride covered with a hard shell of white plastic, is obscured by tall trees on a flat field.

What did I expect? Purple mountain majesties? I'm in the pre-Great Plains of the Midwest. The gateway to the west. This is Indiana...translated it's a NativeAmerican word for flat. Okay, I made that up.

I film the freshly painted black sign with gold lettering set in a stone wall.


It gives me little consolation to know that parents have been dumping their girls here for a solid education since bustle skirts, high-top shoes, and the invention of the cotton gin.

"This is my new school," I say aloud. "Or my own personal prison . . . your choice."

The stately brick buildings are connected by corridors of glass. From here, the glass hallways look like terrariums. That's right. The boarding school has glass atriums that look exactly like the scenes I made in summer camp out of old jelly jars filled with sand, cocktail umbrellas, and plastic bugs.

I pivot slowly to film the fields around the school. The land is the color of baked pizza crust without the tomato sauce. There are no lush rolling hills similar to the ones that appear on the school website. The babbling brook on the home page gushes crystal water, but when I went to film it, it was a bone-dry creek bed, with gross stones and tangled vines. Besides being marooned, I've been had...duped by my own parents, who, up until now, have made fairly intelligent decisions when it comes to me.

I lift the camera and film a slow pan. The endless blue sky has gnarls of white clouds on the horizon. It looks a lot like the braided rag rug my mother keeps in front of the washing machine in the basement of our Brooklyn brownstone. Everything I see makes me long for home. I wonder what color the sky is now in New York. It's never this shade of blue. This is cheap eye shadow blue, whereas New York skies have a lot of indigo in them. When the moon rises over Indiana, I bet it will be a cheesy silver color, but at home, it's golden: 24K and so big, it throws ribbons of glitter over Cobble Hill. I can already tell there will be no glitter in Indiana.

The first thing my parents taught me when I held a camera was to spend the least amount of film time on beauty shots and the most amount of time on people. "If you film people," my mom says, "you'll find your story." I slip the camera back into its case and head back to the dormitory. I'm going to remember to tell my mom that sometimes you need beauty...and beauty shots. Beauty makes me feel less alone.

The gothic entrance hall smells like lemon furniture polish and beeswax. The dorm has the feeling of an old church even though it's not one. Heavy dark wood stairs and banister lead to a ceiling covered in wide squares of carved mahogany. A burgundy carpet runner over the wide staircase is frayed at the edges but clean.

The hallway that leads to my room on the second floor is filled with small groups of girls, my fellow (!) incoming freshmen, who laugh and chat as though moving into a boarding school is the most natural thing in the world. I'll try not to resent the smiling, happy girls.

Inside the rooms are more girls, hanging posters and unpacking, talking as if they've known each other forever. But then there are the other girls, girls who are quiet and clump together, looking around with big eyes full of dread and fear, waiting for something horrible to happen.

I guess I'm somewhere in the middle of these two camps.

I don't want to be too quick to make friends because I don't want to get stuck with an instant BFF who seems totally nice on the first day, and then a week later is revealed to be the most annoying person on the planet. I don't want to be that freshman...the chirpy kind, who needs friends fast in order not to feel alone. So I am deliberately aloof. At LaGuardia Arts, in Brooklyn, my old school, this method worked very well for me.

I did make close friends when I was a photographer for the yearbook. I even made my best friend since childhood join the yearbook staff. Andrew Bozelli (BFFAA...the double A is for: And Always) and I have a lot in common. Never mind that everybody, I mean everybody, thinks we're boyfriend and girlfriend...we are not by the way, we just happen to spend a lot of time together. I fish my phone out of my pocket as it beeps. It's Andrew...

Viola in Reel Life. Copyright © by Adriana Trigiani. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Viola in Reel Life 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
E-C-D More than 1 year ago
This was a very cute coming of age book about a 14 year old girl named Viola, who gets sent to a all girls school in Indiana while her parents film a documentary in Afghanistan. I really enjoyed the film aspects because that is something that I don't know a lot about. I related a lot to Viola, she is very stubborn and she seems to never understand that she is acting a certain way until someone points it out to her. I went into this book wanting to read a teenage romance, but as this story progressed I loved that it was more about Viola discovering herself and a friendship between four young girls. I would love to read more about Viola and her friends, I think that there is a lot of potential in the characters of this book. Especially, the relationship between Andrew and Viola. I would also like to see more of what Viola films, mainly her video diaries. All in all, this was a very well written book. It's the 1st book I've read by Adriana Trigiani and I will definetly be looking into her adult books now.
DanceBree17 More than 1 year ago
Viola In Reel Life is a sweet read that takes you thru the roller coaster ride that is Viola Chesterfield. She starts out feeling "dumped" by her documentary making parents who have to go to Afganistan to do filming. The book shows just how withdrawn Viola is when she first arrives and how it plainly hurts her roommates. Its nice to see a book written about a real girl going to boarding school, not some uber-rich girl having to deal with where her Manolo's will fit in the cramped closet. She hides from everyone behind her video camera, but that becomes part of her sudden popularity when she helps the Founders Day show the school puts on and makes her a star. That same camera also helps her meet a cute boy from the boys private school down the road. Its nice to see Viola change from being so withdrawn and sad to a bubbly and happy girl at the end. I liked how they talked alot about the short film Viola works on for a contest. Overall, its a good realistic book and girls will love it!
LouiseJolly More than 1 year ago
On September 3, 2009, fourteen-year-old Viola Chesterton finds herself unhappy after being dropped off in South Bend, Indiana which Viola refers to as the: "...dust bowl of Indiana", at "The Prefect Academy For Young Women Since 1890." Viola's parents are off in Afghanistan for a year making a documentary about Afghan women forcing them to pull her from her home in Brooklyn, New York. This was not going to be an easy or comfortable change for Viola. Convinced she was going to be unhappy, and feeling "marooned" and "abandoned", Viola figures her family will miss her long before her year at the all-girls boarding school is up, and will rush to bring her home. If she can't convince them through her words, then as an amateur photography and movie maker who never leaves her camera behind, she decides she'll express her unhappiness through film. It gives her little consolation when she realizes that: "...parents have been dumping their girls here for a solid education since bustle skirts, high-top shoes, and the invention of the cotton gin" and Viola sees the Academy as her "personal prison." Used to being an only child and not having to share, Viola decides to take a middle stance and not be "...too quick to make friends" as she doesn't want to be stuck with a 'best friend forever' or viewed as the "...most annoying person on the planet" and is soon introduced to her three roommates. But, as the girls get to know each other and become acquainted, what Viola begins to learn is that sometimes what we term as "family" isn't what we think. During her journey through boarding school, Viola not only makes some friends, discovers some things about herself and her family, survives her first boyfriend, but learns that good things do happen to people like her and growing up is sometimes hard to do. Ms. Trigiani's talent is amazing!! It doesn't matter if she's writing adult fiction or young adult fiction, all her novels are page-turners! I felt like I was with the group every step of the way, like I had been transported into the pages of the novel!! This novel is for anyone, young or old, male or female and will leave you wanting more.
cider12 More than 1 year ago
I am far from a teen - but I am a huge fan of Adriana Trigiani and read whatever she has to say. I found the story captivating and thought that the message was a good one. This young girl was put into a situation that she very much did not want to be in - she not only dealt with it, but she learned that, when given a chance, good things can come out of a negative experience. All in all, a very good life lesson.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Viola Chesterson has been "dumped" at the Prefect Academy for Young Women in South Bend, Indiana - a long way from home in Brooklyn, New York. Her freshman year of high school seems like it's going to be a terrible one. But luckily, with the help of her three roommates and the video camera that she always carries around with her, she not only survives the year (and her first boyfriend), but learns that sometimes family can be more than just the people you're related to. I enjoyed reading this book. It was fun to read about what boarding school life would be like for a normal kid, not just a rich one. I liked all of the roommates - when I first started the book, I expected them to not get along and to dislike them. But the author took a different route and made all of the girls nice and friendly. I also enjoyed the whole film aspect of the story. I thought the short film Viola makes at the end was a great idea. The only thing I didn't like was that sometimes Viola seemed a little immature. I know that she was only fourteen years old, but some of the things she thought and said just seemed a little young for her age. Overall, though, this was a fun young adult read!
joiseygoil More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like Trigiani's books and enjoyed this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is written in such a way that make you believe they are real people. Not fiction. I am very old but love that romance for a few months. Congratulations Adriana! Mes
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She gave a squeal.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a great book. Its a quick read, but also very fun. Don't hesitate to buy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sweet story about a girl short read but worth the time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this to a teenager like myself who is looking for a new book. It turned out to be really great! Im like Viola in that sense I guess!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
it wasn't that bad.. i just didn't like it.
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ItsTheBookworm More than 1 year ago
This is one of my new favorite books. The way Viola tells her story is stunning, and keeps you entertained throughout the whole book. This is the kind of book I would not get tired of reading over again. Great story of a teen life(:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Emma Baird More than 1 year ago
The book is good but there is no excitment or adventure.
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