Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Title: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe
Author: Shelley Coriell
Publisher: ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Pages: 320 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon; Barnes and Noble; Book Depository

Welcome, Caller, This Is ChloeChloe Camden has a big heart and an even bigger collection of vintage shoes. Life is good…until her best friend turns the entire school against her and her counselor axes her junior independent study project. Forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass her Junior year, Chloe joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t always appreciate her unique style. 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 tackles love, loneliness, and painful life lessons as she gives her big heart to the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

Review:

One day, Chloe has two awesome best friends, a place at table fourteen, a completed JISP, and a pretty good life. The next day, she has none of it after her best friends dump her and her new guidance counselor tells her that her JISP has to be redone. Since Chloe can't meet the deadlines, she gets stuck doing her big junior project on the struggling school radio station KDRS 88.8 The Edge. None of them want her there that badly, especially not its manager Clementine, but she's there to stay and they need her. With Chloe's big personality, her ideas, and her new talk show, she can bring the station new life and maybe find a new home in the station like everyone else did.

Chloe is difficult to like. Very difficult to like, in fact. Every time another character called her out for her self-centered behavior and all the other things she did, I agreed with them. Bullying her, spreading false rumors about her, framing her for putting rude photos on the Internet, and more was the wrong way to treat Chloe, but their core message that she wasn't as great as she thought she was and she could be pretty thoughtless of others was spot-on.

The strongest element of the novel was when Chloe started hosting her call-in radio show. Strangely enough, her obnoxious personality, a detail that numerous readers other than myself had a difficult time with and that some said kept them from finishing the novel, is what made the show so strong and that combination is what really invested me in Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe. If she didn't have that I'm-above-all-of-you-and-so-great vibe going on that made me want to strangle her through the book, she wouldn't have been able to bring that to the one place it worked: her show. Without that, my experience would have been more dismal. This may be the first and only time I am thankful a main character was annoying.

Once Chloe started hosting her show a third of the way through the novel, everything else magically picked up. Grams becomes less of a stock cool grandma and more of a character as she struggles with her worsening Parkinson's Disease; why Duncan has to work two jobs and everyone is reluctant to talk about his life is revealed; Brie's sudden dumping of Chloe and her rude behavior toward her ex-friend is explained. Speaking of Brie... No, let's not. I'll get annoyed again. I just can't believe what Chloe ended up doing concerning her after everything Brie did to her.

It takes getting through a rough beginning to get to the good stuff--and I identify this as a flaw of the novel and something I considered before writing this review--but Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe was a fun read that stands out from the overflowing YA market with something you don't see in every novel: radio shows. If you have an interest in how small-scale radio stations work and want it mixed with fluff and a character whose irritating personality brings it all to life, try this out.

3 stars!


What am I reading next?: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres