Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to School: Violet in Bloom (A Flower Power Book) by Lauren Myracle

Lying isn't okay. But hurting a friend's feelings isn't okay, either. Hurting even a non-friend's feelings isn't okay.

Which is more important: being a good friend or a good person?

Oh, wow, Yasaman thinks.

The basic aha has to do with how life is hard for everyone. The specifics are more complex.

And it is the specifics, getting into the weeds in the garden of relationships, so to speak, that is putting the blight on the Flower Power Bunch, in Lauren Myracle's just published paperback edition of Violet in Bloom: A Flower Power Book (Abrams Books, 2011), the second book in the series which began with her popular 'tweener novel Luv Ya Bunches: A Flower Power Book. The four diverse but devoted girlfriends, Katie-Rose, Yasamen, Camilla, and Violet, share names taken from flowers as well as their every thought on their LoveYaBunches website. School has just started and the girls rely on each other even more as they settle into the dynamics of fifth-grade, with its shifting friendships, fashion worries, and romantic complications becoming a big subject of their messaging.

At first it's all bubble-gum, pink-fonted, bubbly buoyancy in flower-power land, but reality begins to intrude when Katie-Rose and Yasaman discover the evil trans-fats and empty calories in their class's midmorning snacks--no-cheese Cheezy D'Lites--and set out to design a class campaign for a healthier alternative. Milla's moms' suggestion, organic beet-flavored Yums, are a bust with the class's taste testers, but the friendless Natalia senses an opportunity to work her way into favor with Yasaman by designing WHY SNACKRIFICE? buttons for the entire class to help the group's campaign. The girls get permission to do a grade-level presentation on the evils of trans-fat riddled snacks, giant food conglomerates and industrial animal farming, but when their iconic cute pet pig gets loose, the girls are in trouble with their teachers and out of favor with their more conventional classmates.

And that's just the main plot. Yasaman feels for classmate Natalia, friendless and wearing a clumsy-looking headgear which makes her lisp like a caricature toddler, but Katie-Rose resents Natalia's maneuvers to drive a wedge between her and Yasaman. And when their rivalry eventually breaks into open classroom conflict, Katie-Rose winds up in detention in the principal's office.

Meanwhile, Violet is conflicted over visiting her mentally ill mother, who calls her to the school office telephone to beg her to come; Vi knows that the class weirdo, Cyril, has overheard most of the conversation and can't resist taking his private journal to discover what he knows and if he plans to tell what he knows. The de rigueur mean girls, Modessa and Quin, are up to their usual tricks, picking on poor Cyril and anyone else who gets in their way. And to further complicate the mix, Milla is in the midst of a brand-new and official romantic "liking" with the adorable Max when she accidentally (and fatally) steps on his escaped hamster Stewy.

Veteran author Myracle (author of Ten) and others in her best-selling The Winnie Years series, covers a lot of ground in one significant September week as her Flower Power girls open up to some of the serious realities of their world. Told partly in textings on their web site, partly in straight narration, and partly in imagined scripts by the film-struck Katie-Rose, this book tills the fertile field of girl world without trivializing the often stereotyped pre-teen socialization process. Myracle is a sure-footed writer who knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff in her novels, providing insight into even minor characters regardless of their likability, and keeping it all light, humorous, but nevertheless meaningful.

School Library Journal says, "...this is trademark Myracle, and those who "heart" her books will lurve, er, love this one too."

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home