Much to my family’s delight, I cleaned out the interior of my car before we took a day-long family trip to visit my father-in-law to celebrate his birthday. Up until that point, the inside of my car looked like a “hot mess” as my youngest daughter would say.
Where am I going with this? … I found a lovely surprise during this car cleaning – an ARC of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by Danette Haworth. I’m guessing that either it fell out of my bag of ARCs I selected from Cover to Cover during the 48 Hour Challenge in June, or one of my Columbus blogger friends loaned it to me and it got lost in my messy, messy car. Whichever one it was, I am so glad I found this book!
The title alone – Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning – is enough reason to read it, but the story line is great, too! This is a story of a girl caught between her childhood ways and the pulls of adolescence.
The main character is Violet Raines. Violet loves her momma who works in the local bakery, her best friend (Lottie), Lottie's family, and her best boy pal, Eddie. The staples in Violet’s life are the things she’s done her entire childhood: Sunday fish fries at Lottie’s house, going to church on Sunday and passing notes with Lottie, exploring the caves, woods, and streams around her hometown of Mitchell Hammock, Florida, looking for Albert, a huge alligator, and once a week collecting great words from the Sunday newspaper in a section called “Today’s Word”. Violet actually cuts the word out and keeps all her wonderful words in a special box (the language arts teacher in me loved the words and the box Violet collected them in – words like “taradiddle” and “magniloquent”).
Violet’s life as she knows it is upended when Melissa, a new girl all the way from the big city of Detroit, Michigan, moves into town. Melissa has televisions with soap operas, makeup, a BRA (gasp!), glittery t-shirts, high heeled shoes, and the glamour of being the girl from the big city. Melissa is the exact opposite of Violet.
The plot takes a turn when Lottie, Violet’s life-long best friend, falls under the spell of all the things Melissa is (and Violet isn’t). Violet finds herself being the odd man out, and from there, the plot thickens.
This book delighted me so much because it does a wonderful job looking at how we all go through adolescence in different timeframes, and how frustrating that can be to the ones who are slower to get there. It is a classic coming of age story with very realistic characters. The story also examines relationships between people: Violet and Lottie (best friends who hit a rocky patch when the new girl comes to town), Violet and Melissa (polar opposites who just can’t make themselves like each other), Violet and Eddie (nature buddies until the end of the book), Lottie and Melissa (like to do all sorts of girly stuff together), and Melissa and Eddie (she has a big crush on him).
In case you were wondering, the title is not misleading – Violet almost does get struck by lightning. This is actually another big plot twist.
This story is really one best suited for girls, since they are the main characters going into adolescence, and there are quite a few conversations about bras and training bras. One of my favorite parts was when Lottie was in “training” for a bra, and was wearing the top of her 2-piece bathing suit! I would love to recommend this book to a group of girls who might read it together for a Book Club.
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning was such a good read, it actually makes me happy I cleaned my car!! For those of you that don't have it hidden in your messy car, it is due out August 19, 2008.