Now here’s a sweet book (and a 2008 Cybils MG Fiction nominated title too!) This ARC has been hiding in one of my many piles since summer, and I was inspired to pick it up because it was the very first nomination in the MG fiction Cybils category this year.
This is a true Middle Grade title. Just right for tween readers. Violet Raines lives in small town Florida with her mom. She’s had the same best friend, Lottie, for ages, and she’s been hanging around with her good friend Eddie since forever too. Violet’s life is filled with happy rituals. Every week she goes to the fish fry with Lottie, and hangs out with Lottie’s family, helping with the cooking. She spends summer afternoons with Eddie, hunting for Brain Freeze cups to return to the gas station to get free drinks. She collects intriguing words from the newspaper and stores them in an old shoebox in the china cabinet. Violet is happy and she likes things just the way they are. Of course, that’s not how it’s going to stay, because she’s about to start growing up just like everyone else. The growing up begins when Melissa, a prissy city girl, moves to town. Melissa cares about everything that Violet doesn’t – boys, movie stars, make up, clothes. It isn’t long before Melissa is horning in on Violet’s friendship with Lottie, and shaking up Violet’s reliable existence.
This story reminded me in a lot of ways of Caroline Hickey’s Cassie Was Here (which just so happens to have been a title nominated in the MG fiction category last year). Both books are friendship stories, about girls who aren’t quite ready for the changes that adolescence will bring, who just want time to stand still for a little longer. Then along comes someone who forces change to happen. Both books are quiet. They sort of sneak up on you. They’re not flashy or overly sentimental. They’re just simple stories with characters you believe in. I liked Violet’s tomboyishness, her quick humour and her loyalty. She’s a smart cookie, with a good soul.
I’d happily put this in the hands of any Grade 5 girl. Here’s hoping that there are lots more titles just as worthy in the very long and ever-growing list of Cybils nominations.
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning is published by Walker Books.