Shrinking Violet

Jun 29

shrinking violet

The book is not always better than the movie, but in this case it is.

I found out about Shrinking Violet after watching Radio Rebel and when I looked up what “shrinking violet” means, I was hooked immediately. Growing up I was definitely a shrinking violet, but then I really came out of my shell in college.

Teresa Adams is an extremely shy high school senior by day who is secretly by night, Sweet T, a DJ at SLAM FM, her stepfather’s radio station in North Miami. She is the quietly funny one while her mom is the girly girl one who has never been to prom due to giving birth to Tere and wants Tere to go to prom so badly she is letting creepy sleazy Derek, the DJ Tere interns for at SLAM FM put Tere through a win Sweet T as a prom date contest. Entrants must submit an original song for Sweet T to pick out and their song will get radio airplay time. Meanwhile Tere’s best friend Audrey tries to guide Tere through liking Gavin, the cute guitar-playing guy in Tere’s English class who happens to have the same taste in music as Tere and listens to Sweet T. Competing against herself for Gavin’s attention is not something Tere ever imagined she’d be doing, even in her wildest dreams.

Danielle Joseph writes with a voice that makes you laugh throughout the whole novel. Her sense of humor is spot-on to that of a teenaged girl who doesn’t exactly fit the mold of other teenaged girls. Seriously, I have parts underlined or bracketed or side-noted with “Ha!” all the way through. The page numbers are so faint on the page they keep with the theme. All of Tere’s issues are real and relatable it’s like being back in high school again (if you’re not there now).

I like that in the book there’s a group project where Tere learns all about Helen Keller and grows as a person as a result. This element was not in Radio Rebel, where she’s paired up with the mean girl and Gavin to run lines together for a Shakespeare scene and then she’s locked in the janitor’s closet the day she’s supposed to perform it. I feel like I’ve seen that happen in a couple of Cinderellaish movies now. I like that in the movie Tere’s mom helps her daughter out when Tere needs to be in two places at once. In the book they get into a big fight, which is understandable, but less positive.

There’s one subtle underlying theme in the book I particularly enjoyed because I know exactly what this feeling feels like, but I have never been able to describe it. Danielle Joseph makes it clear on p. 286 of her novel when Tere narrates, “I’m finally getting used to being in high school.” Yes! It’s that feeling of struggling in a certain situation or place and when you finally figure out how not to struggle in that environment anymore, you realize you actually enjoy being there, but by that time it’s time to leave. This is especially true with shy people.

One last thing – the ending was perfect. Don’t just take my word for it. Read it.