|TITLE: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe|
AUTHOR: Shelly Coriell
PUB: Amulet Books PUB DATE: 5/1/12
FORMAT: ARC, 299 pgs
SOURCE: from pub in exchange for honest review
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.
THREE WORDS: Cute But Lacking
MY REVIEW: I’m having the hardest time writing this review about Shelly Coriell’s Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe, because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t fantastic, it wasn’t awful.
Chloe Camden has a big personality and heart to match. With her red curls, vintage shoes and sparkle Chloe is liked by everyone and with her big, happy family she has it pretty good. Until her two BF’s, Brie and Mercedes stop talking to her and spread lies about her, her new counselor nixes her JISP (junior independent study project) idea and she’s forced to work with the school’s struggling student run radio station and her grandmother’s debilitating disease causes conflict in Chloe’s big, happy family. Chloe finds herself for the first time among a group of outsiders that don’t really want her there, but when she hosts a call-in show she soon finds herself popular again…but with popularity also comes trouble. The girl with the big personality and mouth must learn to listen if she’s going to save the radio station, salvage her friendships and just maybe get closer to the surprising Duncan Moore.
The story itself is entertaining, but I feel like the book as a whole can’t really decide if it’s a dramedy (drama/comedy) or full on lighthearted affair. There’s certainly a great deal of humor and cutesy romance, but the book also deals with some heavy stuff (drug addiction, depression, Parkinson’s Disease) and I just don’t think the story ever finds its balance between the lighthearted and the serious. But that’s not to say that the lighthearted elements aren’t fun, because they are, or that the heavy stuff isn’t deftly dealt with, because it is.
Chloe is a hard, but not impossible character to like. There’s something very dramatic and over the top about her and the way she thinks and talks is often eyeroll inducing, but the girl grew on me. In the first chapter, her BFF, Brie, accuses Chloe of being self-centered, and she kind of is…but not intentionally. She grows as a character, which is nice, but her over the top personality and need for attention never really goes away. I didn’t end up loving her, but I did find her endearing and I enjoyed her humor.
I really liked Chloe’s relationship with her grandmother. Coriell does a great job of exploring the pain and heartache that a disease like Parkinson’s has on the one afflicted and the ones that love them. Chloe’s growing romance with Duncan is also enjoyable and sweet. Duncan is definitely a guy that readers will find swoon-worthy, but also complex and layered.
The outcast bunch at the radio station are what really kept me interested in the story. I just wish that we were able to get to know these characters a bit more. I also really enjoyed getting to see the inner workings of a radio station and call-in show.
Coriell often sprinkles cute and clever little similes and metaphors throughout the book, such as using radio and food terms/lingo to describe Chloe’s life and situation, and I found this oddly delightful.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Shelly Coriell’s Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe is a cute, entertaining enough read, but lacks too much (character development, a relatable main character, cohesive flow) to be a must read. Good, but not great.
Young adult author Shelley Coriell writes stories about teens on the edge of love, life-changing moments, and a little bit of crazy. Her debut novel, Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, will be released May 1, 2012 by Amulet Books/Abrams. A six-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue Weimaraner. When she’s not writing, she bakes high-calorie, high-fat desserts and gives speeches about the joys and business of writing. You can find her online at www.shelleycoriell.com.