Title: The Sound of Violet
Author: Allen Wolf
Genre: Romantic Comedy
In The Sound of Violet, two people from very different worlds collide. Twenty-four-year-old Shawn works in coding for a dating app, but he’s had no luck finding a date for himself. When he meets Violet, a charming young woman with a mysterious side, he feels like he’s met “the one.” But Violet is keeping a secret that could ruin everything, and everyone seems to see it except Shawn.
Shawn is on the autism spectrum, and he isn’t able to fully read nuanced social cues, so when Violet comes onto him at a party, he interprets her advances as nothing more than a girl who is showing interest in him. Violet, a sex worker, is in disbelief of Shawn’s obliviousness to her work. But the more Shawn and Violet spend time together, the more they get to know each other, the more they genuinely like each other.
Throughout the book Shawn and Violet go on dates that are sweet, entertaining, and fun. They gallivant around the city and get to know each other in unexpected ways. Even though Violet’s secret lingers, there’s still a light heartedness when she’s with Shawn that is contagious. The most heartbreaking, but compelling, part of the book was diving into Violet’s backstory. Tragic and emotional, Violet’s history with her family, men, and herself will make readers feel even closer to her.
Wolf does a great job creating intimate moments between Shawn and Violet. Their connection is convincing, natural, and feels real. Ultimately, both characters are very likable, while still inherently flawed, so it feels all the more natural for readers to root for them.
Overall, Shawn and Violet’s characterizations are a bit on-the-nose. In the mainstream media, characters that are on the spectrum are often portrayed as white, young men who are incredibly smart and have challenges with nonverbal communication. Shawn’s character has all of those same characteristics. While there may be people who resonate with these traits, as a reader it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to not have been able to see a side of autism that isn’t typically portrayed in the media.
As for Violet’s characterization, it also reflects how sex workers are typically portrayed in the media. The first time Shawn & Violet meet, Violet is incredibly forward and completely transparent about her intentions with Shawn in a public setting that isn’t meant for sex work (it’s a work party). Instances like these are where the book walks the fine line between fleshing out common characteristics in a marginalized person and portraying a stereotype.
We found ourselves approaching this book in two ways. To read this as a romantic comedy, the story feels surface-level and we can’t truly connect with the characters emotionally. To read it as a true love story, then we must try to connect with the characters, and when we do, it becomes very difficult to ignore how the characterizations can be problematic. Fleshing out the characters’ identities in ways that we don’t often see them portrayed could have made them feel more well-rounded and dynamic.
This book contains scenes with violence and sexual assault that may be sensitive to some readers. Because of its adult content, this book is best suited for a mature audience.
The Sound of Violet is a modern love story that will leave readers glued to the pages as they wait for this addictive storyline to unfold. With plenty of humorous, light-hearted moments to balance out the underlying serious nature of the book, The Sound of Violet validates how the human experience is rooted in craving connection and understanding. In this unexpected love story, readers will ride the rollercoaster of emotions with the characters as they overcome challenges in life and love.
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