I have spent the last several days trying to decide what I wanted to do for my first real post. And then the book I read last night decided for me. It was so good that I wanted to write a review about it. And, since I was writing the review, I figured I might as well post it here.
I started reading Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell last night because I was sick and unable to sleep. I planned to read a few chapters and then turn out the lights. I didn’t end up going to sleep until after one when I finished reading this.
Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home. ~Inside Cover Synopsis
I knew nothing about radio stations before I started reading this book. Now, it’s a subject I’m definitely interested in reading more about. The characters are realistic, believable, and three-dimensional. The plot well-fleshed out with enough conflict to keep the story moving. The pacing is good and makes for an easy read. I will definitely be checking out future books by this author.
Chloe Camden is an extremely likeable, extremely believable character. There is nothing form or cliché about her. She leaps off the page right from the first sentence and works her way into your heart until the very last page. She’s quirky, lovable, and the kind of girl you’d love to have for a friend. Everybody loves her. And, Ms. Coriell does a marvelous job making that both her strong suit and her weakness. Part of the reason Chloe stood out to me so much is the fact that she’s not any of the stereotype heroines. She’s not the nerdy girl trying to find her place in the world. She’s not the stuck-up rich girl who needs a good dose of humility. And, she’s not the plain, shy girl who bursts out of her bubble and suddenly “finds herself.” No, there’s nothing stereotypical about her. She’s a normal teenage girl with hopes and ideas, fears and insecurities. She has a lot of good qualities she portrays but also a lot of strong points. As Dunc tells her, she has the biggest heart of anyone he’s ever known. But, what she learns is sometimes using that heart takes effort.
Duncan is the perfect love interest. I will unashamedly admit that I spend time crushing on him last night. But, like Chloe, he’s far from the stereotypical boyfriend-to-be you find in teen fiction these days. In my experience, there are two kinds of YA guys- the jock and the nerd. Both start out stereotyped by their title until the heroine notices them- and how wonderful they are despite the confines of their place in school hierarchy. Dunc, on the other hand, is hard to fit into a category. He’s not really nerdy, but he’s not athletic either. He likes to fix things, like toasters and pencil sharpeners because people and situations can’t always be fixed. He’s quiet and shy, but not in a geeky short of way. He’s got real problems but he doesn’t advertise them like so many of his YA counterparts.
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe also deals with a lot of real-life issues that people everywhere face. And, while Ms. Coriell doesn’t shy away from putting them into her book, she also does a wonderful job of discussing them without showing more than the reader needs to see or cluttering up the story with sermons on why this issue is bad. She shows us enough for us to make up our own minds about it by showing the people affected. In this 299 page book we see people affected by or dealing with everything from backstabbing friends, a feud between mother and grandmother, Parkinson’s Dieses, and outgrowing old friends while learning to make new ones to teen pregnancy, abusive boyfriends, and drug addiction. And, most importantly, the book sends a clear message that sometimes the best way to help someone is to just shut up and listen.
There are however, a few things people might find objectionable. There are several uses of language and one or two innuendoes. They aren’t necessary, but I don’t feel that there are enough of them to warrant passing this book up. However, if that is something you’re intolerant to, you might want to consider skipping this one. Also, God’s name is misused a few times (or, a variation… Clem’s favorite expression is “oh my gawwwwwwd”) A young girl is pregnant but we never even see the father, let alone anything that would lead to pregnancy. Someone suggests Chloe did something inappropriate but it’s only hinted at once and refuted, never to be mentioned again. Dunc and Chloe kiss a couple times but that’s all. Nothing inappropriate is shown or implied. Also, mention of drugs and one scene where several people are high. The scene is very brief in its descriptions and in no way portrays it in a good light. None of the main characters engage in any sort of behavior connected to alcohol or drugs.
Overall I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The language, though nowhere near bad- especially compared to what is popular in YA fiction today- is enough to make me take off half a star. Otherwise, I’d give it 5. I would definitely recommend this book to a young adult looking for a fun, romantic read that isn’t afraid to deal with life issues.
How about you? Have you ever heard of or read this book? Or, do you know of any other books centered around a radio station?
Over and out!