Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley CoriellPublished by Harry N. Abrams on May 1st 2012
ARC from Netgalley
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.
Chloe Camden has it all. Or at least all she could ask for. She’s got a cool job as a burrito babe at Dos Hermanas. She’s got her BFs, Brie and Merce, and together they make the perfect trio, complete with beauty, brains and attitude. She’s got esteem and is popular at school, is friends with most people. She’s got a picture perfect family- a kickass grandma, great parents, and loving brothers. And lastly, she’s got a pretty awesome collection of gorgeous vintage shoes.
Often times, Chloe’s shoes didn’t seem to touch the ground, floating, almost like she’s Queen of the Universe. And then she’s not. Suddenly, her BFs drop her and people start ostracizing her. Add to that, her grandmother’s mental condition grows worse and the new guidance counselor dismisses her JSP, meaning if she doesn’t come up with a better one, she’s going to flunk. And so, Chloe enters the world of radio station, of KDRS 88.8 The Edge, meeting new people and maybe even making new friends.
One word that sticks to me whenever I try to describe this book- QUIRKY. Because that’s exactly what Chloe is. She’s infinitely interesting, unique and fun to read. She’s the type of girl who makes everyone laugh. She has a big heart, as Duncan, KDRS’s techie, would say. She’s also unbelievably outspoken, one of the traits I admired her so much for. She’s not the type to be quiet- she says everything that’s on her mind.
Despite her being upfront and her too-happy-go-lucky personality, there was definitely some profundity there, especially as her character develops. She learns that there are times she needed to hold her words back, that there were times she needed to listen instead of talk.
Aside from Chloe, the other characters were quirky too. There’s Dragon Clem, Nice Guy Duncan and Brad-Pitt-obsessed Grandma! Clementine is the head of KDRS and she hates Chloe’s guts. I enjoyed reading about Clem because her attitude contrasted Chloe’s so much and she was so snarky and pessimistic, I loved it! Duncan is Chloe’s romantic interest. He’s a loner who’s weighed down by problems that no high school kid should be going through. He’s not good with words, often too embarrassed to say his feelings, but boy is he sweet! Chloe and him were really cute together. Last but not the least, and my favorite person in this book, is Chloe’s grandma! She is fantastic and hilarious. She’s determined and strong-willed, even with her Alzheimer’s. Her close relationship with Chloe reminded me so much of my own grandma.
All in all, I think the plot and the characters meshed well especially with Coriell’s writing style, which is engaging to read. Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe is original and refreshing! It’s lighthearted but deep and meaningful. I recommend it!