Welcome back to BookTasty!
I loved participating in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. It introduced me to new authors like Shelley Coriell and their debut books, like Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe.
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.
This debut novel was charming, just like Chloe herself. It was a fun story about pushing through hard times and about being there for those you care about. The book starts out lighthearted and fun but takes a twist for the more serious.
Chloe, although charming is also blind to the reality of life around her. She doesn’t realize that some people really do have real struggles that you can’t completely wipe away with a game or laughter. Seeing Chloe like this at the start of the novel you can understand why Chloe’s friends ditched her the way they did (although in my opinion that’s not the way to deal with your friendships so I’m not excusing them). I completely connected to Chloe with the whole friendship and relationship struggles as I dealt with situations that are almost exactly like Chloe’s in middle and high school. I know exactly what it feels like to not be allowed at the usual lunch table or to have rude (and blatantly untrue) things written about you in the bathroom. High school girls are mean.
Despite all this social junk (and family junk because Chloe is dealing with that, too) Chloe matures a lot throughout the story. She not only learns how to be on her own and experience solitude, and she also learns how to just be okay in the sadness and confusion that life sometimes brings. But Chloe also learns what it means to be there for others in those difficult times. Like the book, Chloe’s story starts out fun and lighthearted but takes a turn for the more serious. She is a better balance of these two sides in the end.
I don’t know if Welcome Caller, This is Chloe is standalone or not, but I would love to read more about Chloe, Duncan and the staff at 88.8. This book was a really good read and recommend it to middle grades and high school readers as well as those who are older (like me!).