Frenching Violet is a first novel by Gary Marchal, and it is an impressive outing for a first-timer. It takes readers back to the glorious (or not so glorious) days of the seventh grade. To make matters even more frustrating for our protagonist, Chas Huckabee, he manages to get himself grounded on the first week of summer vacation. Bored out of his gourd, he - gasp - reads a book. Huck Finn, no less, which inspires him to write about his own feats of derring-do. When seventh grade starts, Chas and Marco, his best friend, both like the same girl, Violet. Now Chas thinks he has priority with her because he gave her his Beatles bubblegum cards in first grade. Then Chas is caught staring at Violet’s best friend, so Violet chooses Marco. This sets off a domino effect that has Chas betray Marco, cheat on his girlfriend, and french Violet - hence the title.
Frenching Violet is a fun romp back to the days when the most important thing on your mind was "Does he/she like me?" and "How can I tell?" Marchal does a good job of capturing the happy-go-lucky times of school days as well as the world-is-coming-to-an-end-because-I’m-not-getting-my-way times. The novel moves at a good clip. The dialogue is believable, and the settings almost make the reader smell that unmistakable “school” smell.
This book is so good that Marchal’s next novel is eagerly anticipated.