In her debut YA novel, Shrinking Violet, Class of 2k9er Danielle Joseph introduces us to Teresa Adams, an ordinary girl who hides a lot behind her super-shy exterior. Tere may be the shyest girl in her school, but she’s also an aspiring DJ who dreams of finding her place at the microphone of Miami’s hottest radio station, The SLAM. Tere’s stepfather just happens to own the station, so when a slot opens up at SLAM, Tere finds her way from mock broadcasting in her bedroom, into the spotlight at a real radio station. Soon Tere is leading a double life; shy-girl by day and sexy Sweet T radio hostess at night. It looks like she’s going to be able to keep the secret going until a SLAM songwriting contest gets launched, and the prize is a prom date with the mysterious Sweet T. Will Tere step away from her shrinking violet status and showcase the talent she’s been hiding all along? Hmmm… not telling! Grab a copy of this sweet story and find out for yourself.
There’s a lot of appeal in this book. First, I was attracted by the premise. I always like reading about a teen who wants to do something a little bit different with her life. I imagine that Tere’s passion for radio might inspire readers to consider that career path too. It was fun to grab a glimpse inside the workings of a radio station. Danielle Joseph worked as an intern at a bunch of radio stations in Boston, so she knows of what she writes. Tere is a lovely, ordinary girl, who worries a bit about her appearance, doesn’t get along so well with her hyper-critical mother, and struggles tremendously with shyness. It’s refreshing to read about such a realistic character. She isn’t in love with a vampire. She isn’t able to communicate with dead people. Her parents don’t own half of Manhattan. She’s a girl that so many teen readers will relate to immediately. That Tere is interesting and ordinary, speaks to Joseph’s strength with characterization. I believed completely in Tere, and felt invested in her journey towards greater confidence.
Shrinking Violet comes with a set of discussion questions, and I think the book will lead to great chat about finding what makes you happy, stepping out of your comfort zone and discovering confidence. I’m imagining a book party with a lot of good tunes and girl talk. This one is fun and real and it gets inside your head, like a good song you listen to over and over.
Shrinking Violet is published by MTV Books.