Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Future Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Harry Abrams
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: e-book downloaded from NetGalley
How I found out about it: NetGalley – isn’t this cover awesome?!
Challenge: 2012 Debut Author Challenge
Summary: Red-haired, pin-curled, makes-everyone-laugh, vintage shoe-wearing Chloe’s life is turning upside down. Her two best friends inexplicably quit speaking to her and shun her from Table Fourteen at lunch. Her guidance counselor is replaced with an overzealous newbie who seems to have it out for Chloe when she rejects her Junior Independent Study Project (JISP). Her new project and lack of friends leads her to the school’s failing radio station where she is met with much resistance…and one very intriguing guy, Duncan.
I was immediately pulled into Chloe’s world – she was quirky, funny, and used to being in the spotlight. The first scene takes place at Dos Hermanas where she’s on the streets handing out coupons to passerby dressed as a burrito wearing a pair of vintage shoes. If there are two things you should know about me, Magan, it’s this:
- The way to my heart is through Mexican food. (All the talk and similes about Mexican food had my mouth watering.)
- My heart beats triple time when face-to-face with a new pair of shoes.
So you see, Chloe and I were like soul sisters. I absolutely LOVED Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe!
She was dealing with a few big issues that I think a lot of people can relate to. Her best friends can’t stand the sight of her and they’ve concocted a story about something she didn’t even really do. They’ve abandoned her in the midst of dealing with her grandmother’s disease. Her great school record is about to be shot because the new counselor seems to have it out for her. Her family life is stressful – Mom and Grams cannot get along.
Where does this leave her?
Making friends with the kids at the radio station that is about to be removed from the school curriculum due to lack of interest. The radio station is intense and they aren’t welcoming whatsoever. She has to prove herself and force her way into the mix or else she’ll fail the project. Wouldn’t that just be perfect since everything else around her seems to be crumbling?
There were a couple of things that I really loved about this book. The first was Grams. I’m extremely close to my grandmother. She’s loud and extremely opinionated and very set in her ways. I felt the same way about Grams; when I found out she had Parkinson’s, I only connected with her even more. My husband’s uncle was diagnosed with this over ten years ago and we’ve seen the impact up-close and very personally. Every situation where Mercedes and Brie (the ex-best friends) never took the time to listen to what Chloe was really dealing with just broke my heart a little bit more. There’s much that’s misunderstood when it comes to sickness and to have two best friends abandon you in the midst of one is just…detestable.
The people Chloe befriended (ever so slowly) at the radio station were awesome. They didn’t allow her to be whiny, obnoxious, or annoying. It was all about tough love. I loved getting to see the inner workings of the radio station. (Another little known fact about me is that I love talk radio. There’s a local Austin station that I listen to on a pretty regular basis in the mornings. I’ve been a fan for 8 or 9 years.) Clementine runs the show, quite literally, at the radio station. She was crazy bossy and fiercely unfriendly. The radio crew was extremely protective of one another. They dealt with many big, real life issues and this book didn’t glorify anyone or anything.
Ultimately, the multiple layers and story lines that were woven throughout made this book awesome. It was about dealing with life changes – between friends, with health, love, and dealing with loneliness. It was about falling in love for the first time (gotta throw in how much I adored Duncan’s character). There were strong contradictions between families falling apart – those that were upper-middle class and those barely scraping by. It was about growing up and learning how to deal with all the consequences of life.
I highly recommend Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe. This is a debut novel for Coriell and I applaud her for successfully writing a character I could connect with in so many ways.