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Review: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe

April 30, 2012

Title: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe
Author:  Shelley Coriell
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Format: ePub via 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.—from Goodreads

The hook that made me interested in this book is that a lot of the plot is centered on a high school radio station. As a girl with a father in the radio industry, I spent a lot of time in radio stations growing up. And, I thought it was a really different idea for a YA novel. Although radio is still definitely alive, there’s a lot of attention given to Spotify and Pandora and Internet radio. So the fact that this is set in an old-school radio station with a control board and a call screener and actual live shows instead of syndicated programming or audio-tracking, really intrigued me.

And although I never really connected with Chloe the way I wanted to (to be completely honest, I found her a little annoying), Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe is a really nice story about a girl learning to look beyond herself and pay attention to what’s going on with those around her—including her (former?) best friends, her family, and the new group of radio nerds she finds herself forced to work with.

And even though I didn’t adore Chloe—I found her a little cloying and did not understand her fixation on Duncan’s scarves—I really liked the journey she took. I loved the topics that Coriell chose to write about: divorce, drugs, teen pregnancy, the stress of family medical issues, and the pressure high school students face to start thinking about college and planning for a future when they don’t necessarily know themselves yet. Though that seems like a lot, Coriell writes about these topics subtley, never allowing the issues to overwhelm or overshadow the main story.

However, all of those topics coalesce in a way that allows Chloe realize that sometimes life isn’t about the beach and Mexican food and vintage shoes, and that there are more important things than being The Big Personality On Campus.

Overall, Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe is a quick, light read with a couple unpredictable moments and a whole lot of heart.

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