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Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by Danette Haworth

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Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by (our very own!) Danette Haworth is the first middle grade book I've read in a long time (for shame, I know).  Firmly entrenched in YA, this book totally set off the: "Think of what you could have missed and all that you're missing!" voice in my head and I'm grateful for it.

This is a fantastic debut.  Set in a small, Florida town, Violet Raines is a fierce, fun protagonist on the verge of a lot of change.  Junior High looms on the horizon, her best friend Lottie is being monopoloized by the glamorous new girl in town, Melissa (who hails from Detroit and doesn't appreciate Violet's hometown as much as Violet thinks she should), and her other best friend, Eddie--well, she doesn't have a crush on him and that's that.  This tailspin of change has Violet questioning her now evolving role within her group of friends while fighting to keep things the way they've always been:  uncomplicated, free and always fun.  When Lottie's family faces an unexpected crisis, Violet realizes the only way out is through.  Can anything good come of it?  Well... you'll have to read to find out!

This is a very sweet novel and I read it in a few hours--not because I was in a hurry to finish it, but because I couldn't put it down.  Violet's voice jumps off the page (as another character remarks, "[she's] no shrinking violet!"), and is full of attitude and humour.  She's a delightful and strong and strong-minded female protagonist for boys and girls alike to root for (and they will root for her).  Supporting charaters are also solidly "there" with quirks and charms all their own.  And the setting!  The setting is incredibly vivid.  I have a feeling Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning is as close to Florida as I'll get without actually ever going there (one day, one day).

The film My Girl, one of my favourites, came to mind a lot as I read this.  The plots are VERY different, but both that movie and this book offer unforgettable main characters on the brink of growing up, and the challenges and struggles therein.  The way Haworth navigates Violet's journey is thoughtful and considerate and results in a very sweet and touching story that has a very natural and satisfying conclusion.  It's going to be fun telling people about this one.  This would be a great read for people of all ages.

(Also, Violet Raines features one of my most favourite lines that I've read in a book.  But I'm not telling you what it is.  Read it first, and then ask me.  :) )

Grab your copy via IndieBound!
#1 - August 28, 2008, 10:28 PM


When you’ve lived in the same sleepy town your whole life, you get real comfortable. As comfortable as a favorite pair of old shoes that that you’ve broken in good. And that’s just the way Violet Raines feels about Mitchell Hammock, Florida. What’s the point in a new pair of shoes that’ll just blister your feet?

It’s the summer before junior high and Violet looks forward to spending lazy days with her best friend, Lottie, and feeding the fish under the old net bridge with Eddie. And on scorching hot days, the three like to collect cups for a free BrainFreeze at the gas station nearby. Since they live in Florida, they get to do that a lot.

Then Melissa moves to Mitchell Hammock from Detroit, with her big city ideas and her highfalutin ways, and the atmosphere between her and Violet becomes charged with friction as quickly as the sudden downpour in a summer thunderstorm. Florida is the lightening capital of the world and by the end of the summer, Violet has been burned more than once and has also managed to hurt both of her friends. Somehow, Violet has to figure out how to repair the damage she’s done to both Lottie and Eddie, even if it means including Melissa. In the process, she just might find out that it’s fun to try on that new pair of shoes, and that, in time, they can become just as comfortable as the favorite pair you’ve worn forever.

Danette Haworth has crafted a beautifully written, pleasurable read. In VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, Violet’s spunky, blustery voice is a terrific contrast to her sweet, gentle soul. There is something about Violet that reminds me of Opal in Kate DiCamillo’s BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. I rarely read a book more one once, yet as I flipped back through the pages to write this review, I found myself caught up in reading it again. This is one of the many reasons that I am awarding VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING a gold star. Don’t miss this one!

This review was originally posted at
#2 - November 17, 2008, 05:11 PM

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There's no way to avoid falling in love with Violet Raines as she struggles to cross that precarious bridge between childhood and adolescence.  Violet's voice is honest and sweet and funny.  And she has so much to deal with -- a friend who's growing up too quickly, the fancy new girl in town, a boy who's always been her buddy, but might be more.  Did I mention the alligator, terrifying bridge and lightning?  Oh, the lightning!
I thought the author did a fabulous job of creating the setting, too -- woods filled with Cypress trees, swampy areas with coral snakes and the sizzling, scary summer storms all Floridians will recognize.
Treat yourself to a book that might just become your new favorite -- Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. 
#3 - February 19, 2009, 09:50 AM
OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN (Delacorte Press, 2012)


Here's my review posted on the web at Curled Up With a Good Kid's Book:
#4 - April 02, 2009, 12:09 PM


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