Adele's Reviews > Shrinking Violet

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph
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Jun 02, 09

Read in June, 2009

How many of us have read books about shy girls who are about as shy as a Pussycat Doll? Wow look at that sea of hands. In the case of Tere, she really is a shy girl, so much so that her teachers and classmates don't expect her to speak at all. At one point someone even assumes she's deaf and dumb. Numbed and closeted by her mother's need to show her love through an onslaught of criticism, Tere avoids life...with an exception to her friend, Audrey, and her pretend hosting gigs on SLAM.

I had high expectations from this novel and I think in many points it achieved them. The characters are well established but the storyline was fairly predictable. I could see the end a mile off but really enjoyed that some elements, like that of Tere's relationship with her mother weren't tied up with a shiny red bow. Gavin is a different sort of romantic lead - friendly, affable and a little ambiguous (for awhile anyway). He's definitely not the typical "guy" and I liked him for that, I would have liked to know a little bit more about him though. Other characters like the charming Jason, the sexist Derek and the insightful Pop-Tart were all fantastic individuals that facilitated the protagonist's growth without being heavy handed.

Some people might question why Tere, who suffers chronic shyness in answering questions in class (she compares it to having a mouthful of peanut butter) would be interested in hosting a radio program. If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Radio is a largely anonymous format where the music and your voice are your way of reaching out to people. Tere's passion for new music and her need to share it allow this plot development to flow somewhat naturally. Unfortunately I just don't see how a high school girl, even with a step-father who owns a radio station, would end up hosting her own show. The circumstances allow the chips to fall in Tere's favour but you need to make the leap with her. What I really enjoyed about this story was that Tere's success as Sweet T did improve her ability to relate to others but it was the support of a few select people that had a larger role in this growth. She slowly transcends out of crippling shyness at a realistic pace, though the finale circumstances did diminish this evolution to a degree.

As a podcaster, I can attest to that great rush you feel when someone likes you for your voice and opinions. It's very similar to getting great feedback on a special post in your blog. Recognition and approval is something we all strive for in life. Tere may have found an avenue to get it from society but her mother's is a tougher fish to fry. I found their interactions to be the most compelling element of the story, it struck very close to home for me. Though the consistent use of light humour allowed the book to not become bogged down by heavier subject matter.

I really enjoyed Danielle Joseph's take on shyness, difficult mothers, body image, group assignments and feeling confident. Shrinking Violet is sure to entertain and promote some thought about how you choose to relate with others. Thumbs up.
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