Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

“Might as well admit it—I’m shy. Not the kind where you blush when someone compliments you, but the kind that results in feelings of nausea when meeting new people. When I was little, I thought I was Shy Adams. People would ask my name, and my mother would immediately answer for me, “She’s shy.” She even did it three weeks ago when we met up with some of the radio people at a restaurant.”

Feeling uncomfortable in front of strangers is a feeling I know well, but not even I am paralyzed at the thought of speaking out loud. Teresa (who most people call Tere) Adams’ is. She has one friend but might as well be invisible to the rest of the school. But her silence hides a voice stronger than anyone would suspect and a dream of one day becoming a radio DJ and sharing her love of music with the world. Or at least South Florida. It’s a dream that suddenly looks closer to reality than ever before when one of the DJs at her step-father’s radio station quits. After a fight with her extremely confident, appearance-obsessed mother, Tere surprises even herself by voicing this dream aloud and asking Rob for a chance to host the now vacant show. She starts out helping at the station, interning and observing the afternoon DJ, but eventually she gets a lucky break and is allowed to co-host the evening show. On air, Tere becomes Sweet T, the confident girl with the sexy voice who couldn’t possibly be shy, silent Tere Adams and she makes sure it stays this way by swearing everyone at the station to silence on her identity. Which is why everything at school continues mostly as normal. The one exception is Gavin, Tere’s new crush who just happens to be one of her partners on a project that combines two of her worst nightmares: working in a group and a presentation in front of the class. A long presentation. Gavin is astonishingly understanding, heartbreakingly cute, and a music buff so falling for him is not a shock, but how easy Tere finds it to talk to him is. Entire sentences are uttered in his presence, even after Tere finds out that Gavin listens to her radio show. It’s only when the afternoon DJ comes up with the brilliant idea of auctioning off Sweet T as a prom date to the winner of a songwriting contest that things begin to unravel. Can Tere survive the revelation of her identity? Will she be paralyzed on stage in front of her entire school when she meets the contest winner in person? What if the guy hates her? What if he doesn’t? Should she tell Gavin the truth?

Shrinking Violet was adorable in so many ways. I rooted for Tere every step of the way and the way she talked about the bands she loved made me wish they actually existed so I could look them up. You don’t have to know anything about music to appreciate this story, though. Tere’s struggle to overcome her own shortcomings can translate into anyone’s life. The rest of the characters too—love ‘em or hate ‘em—are unique and well written. Her mother, for example, makes me extraordinarily grateful that my mother is nothing like Tere’s. Their relationship if fraught with difficulties and arguments, mostly from the fact that they exist on completely separate wavelengths. Like Tere herself, though, their relationship grows and changes from beginning to end.

Well written, engaging, and littered with random bursts of incredibly poetic prose, I really enjoyed Shrinking Violet and highly recommend it.

Sera’s Rating: 10/10 stars


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