Monday, August 30, 2010

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather.

When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sexy Sweet T to everyone's shock, she's a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ's awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest, and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize, Sweet T's dream could turn into Tere's worst nightmare. . . .

Shrinking Violet was a pretty darn cute book--and very nicely written, considering that it was Danielle Joseph's debut novel.

Really, it was quite lovely, especially the ending (which I just swooned over) and a realistic and poignant plot. Yet in hindsight, I'd have to give it a 3.5. Let me explain.

For starters, the tantalizing summary at the back got me thinking that this was going to be a fast-paced book; on the contrary, it takes a while for Tere to muster up enough confidence to talk (with more than one-word answers) to becoming a DJ for The SLAM. At the time, I really wanted a light book with a fast plot, so I suppose all it takes for that kink to straighten itself out is the proper mood.

Being a shy person myself, I was able to relate to Tere on a number of levels--and her character got me flipping the pages to see how the author was going cure her extreme shyness. While I thought her development was a little choppy and could've used a bit more smoothing out, it was fun to watch Tere (or Sweet T) finally gain some confidence. She was such an underdog that I really wanted to see her speak her rather self-deprecatingly humourous, intelligent mind.

That said, the supporting characters and antagonists fell a little flat for me. I had problems particularly Tere's mother (whom I definitely could not sympathize with) and Stacy, mean girl extraordinaire. Though the reason for her mother's callous treatment is given, I didn't think there was enough build-up in the book to actually make the sentiment stick. And personally, I just didn't get why popular girl Stacy would want to pick on shy Tere.

I really wish that Audrey, Tere's best friend, got more screen time. She was a character who had potential and could've made the reading experience richer. And I definitely wanted more Gavin, who was Tere's utterly sweet, cute love interest! Theirs was a very cutely done romance and I wanted more interaction between them.

Joseph's writing style was solid laced with some poetic imagery and shots of humour. And the themes of image, identity and confidence are explored adequately in this novel, so I'd recommend giving it a try.

Overall, I would say that Shrinking Violet is a pretty good debut novel; it just needed a little bit of tweaking with the characters, is all.. I'd totally give Danielle Joseph another try--Indigo Blues sounds awesome!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (added .5 for the predictable but sweet, sweet ending!)