Book Review: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
How Excited Was I To Read This Book? 4/5. I had seen this book reviewed elsewhere, but what really bought it to my attention was the cute cover! Also loved the title.
How Excited Was I After I Read This Book? 4/5. I enjoyed it. I really did. But I am not without some reservations…
Book Jacket: 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.
Review: This book flies or dies based on whether you like Chloe. And I would expect most readers to have a strong (positive or negative!) reaction to her character. First, there’s her voice. A lot of acronyms, abbreves, etc. Her family is the “fam.” Her friends are her “BFs.” If reading this is already making you annoyed, you will not enjoy this book.
On the other hand, Chloe is loveable! She describes herself standing “in full burrito glamour” and she means it! She takes pride in being good at being a burrito! Everything she does, she does it with conviction. I might compare her in some ways to Lola from Stephanie Perkin’s Lola and The Boy Next Door, but Chloe cares a lot more about her social standing and about what people think of her. And you can hardly blame her for that!
The plot largely centers around Chloe getting a wake-up call. She’s been self-absorbed, albeit in an oblivious, non-malicious way. She loses her friends and her social standing overnight. And what’s worse, she is forced into a volunteer extracurricular project by the school guidance counselor – charged with resuscitating the school’s floundering radio station.
Sidenote: I really enjoyed the guidance counselor. At first I was picturing Allison Janney in 10 Things I Hate About You. Chloe even says, “With her twitching nose and upturned glasses, my new counselor reminded me of a cat.”
RIGHT?! But then she really does want to save the world – or at least her students – and does things like include Ghandi quotes in her e-mail signatures. So I decided maybe she is more like my favorite guidance counselor on the Best Show You Probably Aren’t Watching Right Now, MTV’s Awkward (ignore the fact that it’s on MTV! It’s really good!)
I love, love, love Valerie from Awkward, so this worked well for me.
ANYWAYS, didn’t realize I had such strong feeling on guidance counselors as portrayed in the popular media! Back to Chloe! I finally decided that she reminds me of Cher from Clueless. She is popular and when she suddenly has a fall from grace and is cast into the depths of self-doubt – or at least is forced into a shadow (by Tai?!) – she keeps a good attitude, volunteers on behalf of the victims of the Pismo Beach Disaster, finds a cute nerdy boy, and ends up on top, right where she belongs. Insert radio station, and it kind of works.
Chloe is the sort of person who says things like, “Fun is everywhere. You just have to find it. Or make it.” But then the burrito costume! She really does live her own advice. She is also dealing with serious problems in her own life – her grandmother’s alzheimers, most notably, for what that’s worth. And she really does make the best of her time at the radio station – worming her way in with a bunch of misfits who mostly weren’t too happy to see her in the first place. She sort of did the same with me!
I legitimately had fun getting to know Chloe. This was a quick read. And it had some nice messages about what to do when life doesn’t go according to your well thought-out and best-intentioned plans.
Unresolved-But-Maybe-Later-Resolved-Sexual-Tension: Chloe’s crush is Duncan, a lumpy scarf wearing loner whose only social outlet appears to be the radio station. We learn that Duncan has a lot of problems going on at home – again, the author’s attempt to hit the more serious issues of growing up. I think that these parts of the book were perhaps the least successful. Hard to pinpoint why except that it made Chloe’s developments less believable? I wasn’t sure if Chloe could have handled the seriousness or if she would have been Duncan’s type. On the other hand, she was quite forceful in her pursuit and one thing you learn about her through the course of the book – it’s hard to tell her no!
Bonus/Minus Point: Elizabeth would extra like Chloe because she’s a red-head. I just have to ask: why so many red-heads in YA-world? America Singer, whom I didn’t like, Alanna of Tortall, whom I do. I know it’s been popping up elsewhere. Bring back the mousey brunettes! Make us cool again!
Re-readability: Low. I cruised through, but I don’t think I’ll have the urge to pick it up again. A great library book!
Recommended for: Hmmm. Readers who like a good teen drama. Or a radio station. This book was more serious and less funny than I had expected.
If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: As I already mentioned, Chloe in some ways reminded me of Lola from Lola and the Boy Next Door. I think that one would be number one for me.