Twelve-year-old Violet is one of the funniest, frank, most passive-aggressive characters I’ve read all year. I can’t remember liking a kid protagonist this much since Flavia DeLuce.
Violet’s story starts off sad. Her Vancouver family has all but fallen apart after her TV-producer father leaves for a blonde LA actress named Jennica. Now Violet has to deal with a little sister who wets the bed and a mom who’s quickly turned into a serial dater with bad taste. What’s more, her father constantly wants her to visit in LA, where her evil stepmom and new twin sisters live. How does she cope? The novel starts with her tricking the twins into eating cat poo, and, well, it doesn’t get much better from there. Once her mom starts dating a guy named Dudley Wiener, Violet realizes it’s time to take matters into her own hands. She quickly devises a plan to set her mom up with a better man…a man who could get rid of Dudley and show her dad a thing or two. Enter George Clooney!
Despite her oftentimes bad attitude, and even the occasional urge to insult five-year-olds, I think Violet’s pretty charming. And not everyone would agree with me on this, which is why she’s that much more interesting to me. Here is a fictional girl who’s every bit as confused and complex as a living, breathing tween. Her problems are not insurmountable, but she’s written in such a way, and surrounded by such a colourful cast of characters, that she becomes special in her ordinariness. If all the surly teens of the world could vocalize what was going on in their heads, we’d get narratives like this one – and I think we’d respect them a bit more. After a few chapters it was easy to see that underneath her scales, all Violet really needs is a hug.
Dear George Clooney is funny, sweet, touching, well-written and funny. Yes, I know I said that twice. But when you stay up half the night to finish this book only to wake up the rest of the house with your laughter, I think you’ll find it double-funny, too!