Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
The Skinny: Chloe’s life seems pretty good: awesome job, great best friends, a killer shoe collection. That is until her two best friends suddenly turn against her, her mother and grandmother are waging WWIII against each other, and her new guidance counselor axes her independent study project. In a scramble to find a new one, Chloe is forced to join the rag-tag team of misfits otherwise known as the school’s radio station’s staff. In a world where Chloe once reigned supreme, she now struggles to fit in with this group. As a way of trying to save the station, Chloe begins a call in radio show, winning the attention of the student body. During her time at the station she meets Duncan, a quiet soul who she becomes close to and begins to fall for. (and I’m stealing this next line from the author’s website because it’s so good) On and off the air, Chloe tackles love, loneliness, and painful life lessons as she gives her big heart to the radio station and the misfits who call it home.
BFF?: You know what? I would LOVE to have Chloe as my best friend, but at the same time I would be a little hesitant. Chloe’s personality is as big as they come; she’s vibrant and says what she wants, never hesitating to voice herself. But in a good way. She’s the type of person who, even in the face of trouble, keeps her chin up and tries to stay cheerful. I know this sounds very Pollyannaish, but she’s really not. She just doesn’t like people to be unhappy, which I totally love about her. The reason I would hesitate to be BFFs with her is because I think our two big personalities would clash; there can’t be two “look at me!” types in a friendship.
Anti-BFF: Yeah, this is a new category but I feel it must be mentioned. Chloe’s two best friends, Brie and Mercedes, are heinous trolls. There. I said it. HEINOUS TROLLS. As I read all the mean stuff they said and did to Chloe my heart broke a little for her. And I wanted to smack her. How can you want to be BFFs with people who treat you so badly? Lemme punch both of them in the face for you Chloe. It’s time for a new BFF anyway!
Readability: Shelley Coriell really hit the nail on the head giving Chloe her own voice. You know how you can read books in a first person narrative and the book is SO good but it doesn’t actually sound like a 16 year old? This is not one of those books. Chloe’s personality, as I mentioned above, is big; she’s also sort of self-centered without meaning to be (and what 16 year old isn’t?). Her entire personality shines through her words, giving readers an opportunity to know exactly what is happening in Chloe’s world as well as the world that exists around that world. Coriell also doesn’t confuse her readers with lots of radio station jargon – we get to learn all about the fascinating world of radio along with Chloe, which was actually really interesting.
Crush Level: 6
Duncan, while seriously cute and sweet, was just kind of floating there. I think had he been in my first period economics class I probably wouldn’t have noticed him. Ever. If Chloe hadn’t pointed him out to me, I probably wouldn’t have even known his name. But under that floatyness is a really sweet guy; who, even though he’s quiet, has this inner strength that comes out at just the right moments.
This girl’s got the most kick-ass shoe collection I’ve ever seen. Chloe has a thing for vintage shoes and wears them as little pick-me-ups. One day it may be a 1950s pair of espadrilles, the next a pair of 1920s lace up boots. Needless to say, I’m not contemplating starting my own vintage shoe collection!
Real World Problems
No, I’m not talking about how annoying it was when Puck ate the peanut butter out of the jar with his finger. I’m talking about real world problems that affect everyone: divorce, death, drug abuse… jealousy, family problems, rumors… the list could go on. The characters in Welcome Caller, This is Chloe deals with all these problems and more. And, as in real life, not everyone lives happily ever after.
As mentioned above, Chloe’s two best friends are heinous trolls. Regina George Brie is not. She’s worse. At least Regina PRETENDED to be Cady’s friend… Brie just spews vitriolic (nice use of that word!) word abuse every time she talks to Chloe. And Mercedes isn’t any better. She just jumps on the Brie bandwagon and treats Chloe like dirt. Boo, you whore!
Commencement Speech: Contemporary YA is making a comeback and this book is going to be a front-runner! It’s fun, funny and full of heart. Although the basic plot is generations old, Coriell manages to spice it up and make it fresh. The characters are well developed, each getting their own reasoning for being how they are rather than just being how they are. Chloe’s growth is realistic; she goes through the changes in her life with humor but also develops a deep understanding for others and that the world isn’t always sunny. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, excited to see what happens next, what new hijinks Chloe is up to and how it all develops. I was not left disappointed at the end, just all smiles and hope.
Superlatives – Most Likely to Star in Mean Girls 3