Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

Shrinking Violet

byDanielle Joseph

Paperback | April 16, 2014

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The inspiration for the Disney Channel original movie Radio Rebel!

High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out—doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sassy Sweet T—and to everyone’s shock, she’s a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ’s awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest—and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize—Sweet T’s dream could turn into Tere’s worst nightmare....

Details & Specs

Title:Shrinking VioletFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.9 inPublished:April 16, 2014Publisher:Mtv BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1416596968

ISBN - 13:9781416596967

Appropriate for ages: 12

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Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter One You're listening to Sweet T on 92.7 WEMD SLAM FM. It's after dark now, so don't change that dial because here's where killer tunes explode through your speakers, leaving you wanting more. I'll take you through the night and feed your soul. Call me at 1-800-555-SLAM and let me know what's up, Miami. Now check out the new Juice Box track I've been promising you. * * * Until a few years ago, I always dreamed that a radio station would be a sleek glass architectural gem on Ocean Drive. Flashing neon lights with the studio's call letters would adorn the top of the builing, large enough to be spotted miles away. Don't get me wrong, SLAM FM has a good setup five minutes from the beach in North Miami. But they occupy the second floor of an office building, nestled between a law firm and a bail bondsman, hardly in the midst of all the South Beach revelers staring at the disc jockeys through the huge windowpanes. The only good thing about Mom marrying Rob Fandango, radio bigwig, is that he owns a top-forty station. But while he whisks Mom off to celebrity-wannabe parties every weekend, I'm holed up in my room, downloading all the latest tunes on my iPod and scanning the dial for the next overnight sensation. There are a few local celebs, like the hottest up-and-coming rapper, PJ Squid, that I'd like to meet, but I'd have nothing to say to him. More like I'm afraid I'd open my mouth and nothing would come out, or even worse, I'd say something stupid. Might as well admit it -- I'm shy. Not the kind where you blush when someone compliments you, but the kind that results in feelings of nausea when meeting new people. When I was little, I thought I was Shy Adams. People would ask my name, and my mother would immediately answer for me, "She's shy." She even did it three weeks ago when we met up with some of the radio people at a restaurant. It was so embarrassing because I can no longer hide behind her; rather, she can hide behind me. I'm five inches taller than her and a good thirty-five pounds heavier -- I'm the evergreen tree to her palm. * * * "Teresa, you can wait in the car if you like." Mom's ID card pops out of the slot and she zooms into her reserved space in the station's parking garage. My seat belt is already unbuckled. "No, I'm cool." I walk a step behind Mom toward the elevator. By the time we reach the second floor, my stomach is whirring. I cross my arms against my chest and inhale. I can do this. I've done it before. We'll only be inside for five minutes, tops. Mom has to drop off a birthday present that Rob asked her to buy for his lawyer. Then we're off to my Friday afternoon dentist appointment. Joy. When you open the heavy glass door to the station, the first thing you see is a gigantic red and blue SLAM sign hanging over a large U-shaped desk. In addition to the receptionist's area, the entrance is large enough to fit two red couches and a table filled with Rolling Stone, Vibe, and other music industry magazines. There's a small guy with a goatee and shades sitting there now. He's speaking in a hushed tone on his cell. I don't recognize him. Maybe he's a promoter. I hope he's here for PJ Squid. Patty's up front answering the phones. She's in her midforties, is the proud owner of a seventies feathered hairdo, and plays solitaire in between calls. She gives us a half smile as we waltz by. We round the corner and walk past the on-air studio. My heart thumps. I'd give anything to be inside there, broadcasting live, instead of doing mock shows from my bedroom. Derek, the drive time DJ, is leaning against the outside of the door. "Hi, Delilah." He throws Mom a crooked smile. "How's the show going?" Mom asks. "All good." He winks. "Do you like your new ride?" I'm standing next to Mom, but he doesn't even acknowledge me. We've met several times before but have never spoken to each other. It has always been at the end of a long table at a restaurant or at a few station parties filled with models and other women that don't eat for a living. "I love the Lexus. It drives so smoothly," Mom coos. Derek puts his hand on Mom's shoulder. His knuckles are really hairy and so is his chest, for that matter. I don't think the first three buttons on his shirt have ever been used. "You deserve it." I try to peek into the studio, but Derek's blocking the glass pane in the door. "I like to think so." Mom laughs. "Rob knows what makes me happy." Okay, this is about all I can handle. This guy gives me the creeps. I clear my throat and point down the hall toward our original destination. "Right." Mom nods and says good-bye to Derek. We continue down the carpeted hallway to Rob's window office, facing the bay. When we're a few feet away, I hear him talking to someone. Mom reaches for the doorknob. "Maybe he's in a meeting," I say. "Nonsense. He knows I'm stopping by." She whips open the door. DJ Wipeout is seated across from Rob. "I'm sorry to hear that -- " Rob stops midsentence as soon as he spots us. Both men are sporting poker faces. Call me crazy, but it looks like they're busy. Mom strolls right in, while I linger at the entrance. "Here you go, honey." She plops the gift bag onto Rob's desk and gives him a big smooch on the lips. He smiles but doesn't budge. Mom looks at Rob, then DJ Wipeout. "Excuse me. Did I interrupt something?" "Aaron's leaving us," Rob says. What? No way. He's got a great show, The Love Shack, "where lust is always in the air." "For how long?" Mom slides her wedding ring back and forth. Rob taps his coffee mug with a gold pen. "He quit." Mom's jaw drops. I inch closer to the desk. "I'm going to work on my uncle's cattle ranch in Texas." Wipeout runs his hand over the top of his shaved head. I catch a glimpse of the tattoo stretched across his forearm that says Rock or Die. Double no way. He's going to waste his sexy voice rounding up cows all day and stepping in manure? "That's nice." Mom smiles. "The Love Shack won't be the same without you," Rob says. "I have no clue who to replace you with." Me! I want to shout. I can do the show blindfolded! But instead I stand there deader than a stuffed moose. "I'm sorry, bud." Wipeout lets out a huge sigh. "But this is my calling." Yeah, me, too. This is Sweet T live on The Love Shack, hoping all your dreams come true... Copyright © 2009 by Danielle Joseph

Bookclub Guide

This reading group guide for Shrinking Violet includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Danielle Joseph. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book. Questions for Discussion 1. Does being shy mean you lack confidence? How much of a role do you believe Tere's self-image plays in her being shy? 2. What is your initial impression of Tere's mom, Delilah? Does it remain the same by the end of the book? 3. Tere states, "I'm glad I have Audrey to talk to, but still I can't share everything with her. Not the depths of my soul." Does this change your thoughts on their relationship? Should best friends be able to share everything? Do you think that Tere and Audrey's friendship is one that is lasting? 4. What are your thoughts on the novel's structure considering that the narrative is told from only Tere's perspective? Do you think you would have the same impression of the characters if it was told from a different perspective? 5. Why do you think Gavin and Tere are so connected? How do you think their upbringing and lifestyle affect who they are? 6. Considering how shy Tere seems, is Derek's decision to make Tere a prize in a contest inconsiderate? Why do you think Rob went along with the idea? 7. Was Stacy's anger at Tere justified? 8. Discuss the theme of wearing a mask in Shrinking Violet. To which characters does this apply, and why? 9. Did Tere become more self-assured through being a DJ or do you think it was caused by multiple factors? Explain. 10. Do you believe the book's title, Shrinking Violet, to be an apt description of Tere? 11. Is there anything about Tere and her experiences that are similar to situations you've had to deal with? Discuss. 12. What would be the next chapter in Tere's life as she graduates and goes on to college? Enhance Your Book Club 1. Tere has a real love of music. The music she plays also taps into the emotions she's feeling. Share your top five favorite songs with the book group and what you feel when you play them. 2. Before your book club meeting, look up your favorite author, tell the group why they are your favorite and share something new and interesting about them. 3. Helen Keller was a real inspiration to Tere. Read The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. A Conversation with Danielle Joseph 1. Was your high school experience at all like Teresa's? Is that when you got involved with radio broadcasts? I was shy growing up but not nearly as shy as Tere. I loved being involved in drama, not necessarily center stage, more on the side. I also had a good group of friends that I felt secure in and was able to express myself within that group. Like Tere, I've always loved music and used to spend hours making mixes. Then when I went to college, I got involved with the radio station and loved being behind the mike. There was something comforting about the fact that I was alone in the studio, speaking to thousands of people that could hear me but not see me. 2. You mention many types of masks throughout the story. (The mask that radio provides, the heavy makeup that people wear, the transformations of Teresa's mom with each new boyfriend.) Why do you think so many people are compelled to disguise or hide themselves? Is there a particular mask that you wear? If so, why? When people feel insecure about their inner or outer appearance, they often put up a mask in the form of a wall. Some masks help you grow as a person, while others hinder you because they don't allow you to overcome your fears and insecurities. Sometimes somebody who appears to be really put together is actually hurting inside. Two examples from Shrinking Violet are Delilah, Tere's mom, and Stacy. You really have to unpeel the layers to get to know them. I have always tried not to put up a front and be myself. However, instead of wearing a mask, in certain situations, I hid behind my shyness. Going off to college really allowed me to open up. When you come from a small town like me, it's hard to break free of the mold that you are in. Being on the radio, behind the mic, allowed me to "wear" a mask that enabled me to show my true colors in a positive way. By the end of my time at the radio station, I was much more comfortable speaking to people and expressing myself. 3. With fashion magazines, music videos, and countless other media outlets, it's often difficult for a shrinking violet to find themselves amid all of that manufactured beauty. What would you say to the Teresas of the world? I would say the most important thing is to be yourself and not to sell out. You will never find long-term happiness behind a mask. It may not be today, but eventually you will be rewarded for your honesty, for staying true to yourself. If you don't like the way something is going in your life, fix it. Things will not happen overnight, but if you set small attainable goals, you should be able to meet them with success. And don't forget that manufactured beauty is air-brushed! 4. Tere really seems to love hip-hop (though her loves seem to stretch to various genres, from post-punk to "edgy" tunes). Given your radio involvement, are you a rap fan? Who is your favorite musician? (Who is your PJ Squid? Your Maltese?) I am a big fan of rap/hip-hop music from the old stuff like the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and A Tribe Called Quest to newer voices like Outkast, Estelle, and Sean Kingston. It's hard to pick just one PJ Squid, or one Maltese, but an artist that I really admire is Wyclef Jean. One of the main reasons is because he does not wear a mask. He is proud of his roots and his heritage and has successfully incorporated his background into his music. He is the total package and gives back to others. 5. What inspired you to tell this story? I was inspired to tell this story because I think sometimes we box people into certain categories very early on in their lives and that hinders their self-esteem. I don't ever think you should tell someone that if they don't work hard enough, they can't be what they dream of being. Take Tere's mom for instance: If Tere had listened to her mom, she would most likely have never found a home at the radio station, a place where she clearly belongs. If you believe in yourself, that is all that matters. Set your own limitations. Don't let others do that for you. 6. What do you think initially attracts Gavin to Tere? What about Tere to Gavin? While some people might be turned off by Tere's shyness, Gavin appreciates that when she does speak, she usually has something important to say. He is attracted to her because she is her own person. She's not trying to be the same as everyone else. Tere is attracted to Gavin because he too is doing his own thing and she is intrigued by his mysterious nature. Of course there is a chemical attraction -- she thinks he's cute. Plus, music is a great bonding tool and immediately they both are drawn to each other's taste in music. 7. Do you think people like Stacy, Tere's mother, and Derek are partially responsible for Tere's self-discovery? Do you think negativity can have an impact on someone's life in a positive way? Yes, I do think a lot of the time people are propelled by the negativity in their lives to prove those pessimistic forces wrong. It can definitely affect one's self-esteem, but if you are able to turn a deaf ear to the disapproving voices and really focus on your goals, you can push through any barriers that are set before you. At the end of the day, you only have to look at yourself in the mirror. 8. Do you see Teresa as a modern-day Helen Keller? Do you see parallels between her transformation and Helen's triumphant story? Why did you compare Stacy to Danielle Steele? I think Helen Keller was one of a kind. She persevered against all odds. And for that she serves as a wonderful role model for Tere. Tere was able to gather strength from Helen's story and use that strength to propel her forward. From reading more about Helen's life, Tere was able to appreciate the gifts that she does have and to make use of them. Both Helen and Tere were able to overcome their own personal obstacles and did not let anyone or anything stand in their way. I compared Stacy to Danielle Steele because Stacy is the type of person who would pick an author to represent, solely based on the author's popularity. Stacy wants to be liked and thinks that money and fame prevail over what's inside your heart. 9. Where did you get the idea for the songwriting contest to win Tere as a prom date? Is that something you actually experienced or witnessed? The prom contest idea came from the notion that Tere so quickly dismissed the idea of going to the prom and the only thing that could get her there was her love for her job. She also loves to discover new artists and this was the perfect opportunity for her to do so. I have never been a part of a contest like this but was inspired by the likes of American Idol -- how contests like that are responsible for giving people their big breaks. It's great to see people succeed based on their own merit and that is what happened with Gavin. Just like Tere, the idea of being the "contest prize" would be mortifying to me. 10. Are you working on another novel? Do you have any more stories of Tere to tell, or do you plan to create different characters? Will the focus stay mainly in high school, or would you ever branch out into an older world? Yes, I am working on another young adult novel, involving a mix of humor, love, and intrigue. It would be a lot of fun to write the next chapter in Tere's life as her relationship deepens with Gavin, as she prepares to head off to college and deals with life at the radio station after her mask has been lifted. I love writing for teens but have been carrying an idea for an adult novel in my head for a few years so I'm sure one day I will sit down and write it.

Editorial Reviews

"A funny, romantic, and truly inspirational Cinderella tale for any teen who's ever been shy, loved music, or dreamed of going to the ball. Wait, that's pretty much everybody." -- Gaby Triana, author of The Temptress Four