Friday, March 13, 2009

Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning by Danette Haworth (featuring a guest post from Emma)

A debut novel by Danette Haworth and recently picked up by Scholastic, this was a featured book for my kids' school's Spring Book Fair (of which I am in charge). Because Ms. Haworth is a local Floridian, my Scholastic rep, Mary, and I thought it would be great to convince her to pay us a friendly visit for one of our family events. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, as Ms. Haworth will be on spring break with her three kids that week. As a sort of consolation, Mary gave me the book. I gave it to my daughter after choir practice Wednesday, and she finished it before she went to bed. I read it yesterday. (I know, I should have been reading Gone With the Wind, but this seemed like a minor infraction!)

Violet Raines is a Florida cracker, having lived her entire life in a small Floridian town with her best friends Lottie and Eddie. She is a bit of a tomboy, full of spunk, and perched between childhood and womanhood. When a wealthy family from Detroit moves to town, including the beautiful, prissy Melissa, Violet's small world threatens to slide out from under her. Melissa wants Lottie for her own best friend. Suddenly, Lottie is watching soap operas, wearing makeup and bras, and changing her nickname to "Char". It also seems that Melissa has a crush on Eddie, and she doesn't like Violet at all, throwing out barbed insults at each encounter. When lightning strikes Lottie's house with devastating results, Violet learns what it really means to be a friend, and that growing up doesn't mean you can't stay true to yourself.

I think every red-blooded girl has been in Violet's shoes in one form or another in their lives, which I think is why this book seemed so familiar. It also was reminiscent of "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret", the coming-of-age book of my youth that still sits on my shelf, yellowed and dog-eared with the back cover missing. Haworth also injects the unmistakable essence of small-town Florida from the eyes of a pre-teen...stifling heat, alligator-spotting, love bugs, the Sunday church and fish fry routine, and the ever-present threat and God-fearing respect for lightning. Overall, this is a very sweet, coming-of-age tale that has the potential to be passed around to all the girls in 4th through 6th grade, and end up dog-eared on one of THEIR shelves as adults.

Emma's Take - I really liked this book. I enjoyed the conflict between Violet and Melissa - some of their fights made me laugh, and some made me nervous of what would happen next. I also liked the book because I knew how Violet felt about Melissa, because I've had problems like that at school also. The lesson I learned from this book was that you should try to get along with others even though they are different than you, but you shouldn't have to change who you are.


Beth F said...

Excellent reviews by both of you! This sounds like a super book. I love the premise and Violet sounds like someone I'd like. Thanks to both of you.

Danette Haworth said...

Sandy and Emma,

I love your review of Violet Raines! Emma, I'm so glad you could relate to it.

I myself have been on every side of that friendship triangle, and you're right--the best way to stick together is to know that we're all a little different and that's what makes each of us wonderful.

You guys did a great job reviewing the book! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great review, gals! And how cool that the author left a comment. :)

Natalie read this recently, and she liked it very much, too.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Carrie - I am hoping to have an interview with Danette within the next week or so. She is a very cool lady!

Beth F said...

Oooh. I'd love to see that interview.

Unknown said...

I'll keep an eye out for the book. And for the interview, too.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Beth and James - I am especially excited about the interview. Danette only lives about 30 minutes from me, on the outside of Orlando in an area I am familiar with. The woods and river that is near her house was her inspiration for the backdrop of her book. There is a story there, but I will wait and tell you in the interview!

Melody said...

Sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read the interview!