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.
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe
Strengths: Light, fluffy, improbably-- this is a great beach read. I've not been buying as much girly lit since the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies went belly up, so I will probably have to buy this one.
I love the way Coriell wrote a story that defied expectations. Chloe defied my expectations as well. I didn’t really think she’d change in the end, but she did and it was awesome. In the beginning I could kind of see where her friends were coming from. Chloe did seem a little self-centered, but at the same time she has a huge heart that wants to take care of everyone she loves. Despite the fact that Chloe’s personality is basically the polar opposite of mine, I ended up really loving her and being able to connect with her.
I loved the radio station and all its inhabitants. Even though there were quite a few different characters at the radio Coriell managed to make them all completely unique. I loved reading about them and seeing Chloe find a family with them. Chloe’s talk-shows were super duper fun too :]
Though she doesn’t delve into the complete complexities of it, I really appreciated that Coriell touched on the idea that just because your problems are different than someone else’s doesn’t make them any less painful or difficult. This is something I often think about and I love that Chloe dealt with it a little too. Sure, a broken family and divorce really sucks, but that doesn’t mean that a whole, “picture-perfect” family doesn’t have problems that are just as bad for the person dealing with them.
Duncan was kind of infuriating at times, but I did like him overall, though I didn’t fall head over heels for him. But not every (fictional) guy is for every girl ;]
The Nutshell: If you’re expecting a cute read from Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, you’ll certainly get that, but you’ll come away with something else as well. This read isn’t all fluff, there’s family problems, friend issues, and even some fiery troubles. If you want a cute read that’s also rounded out with some problems (in the story not because of it) then you should definitely give Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe a chance.
I haven’t gotten around to creating my long and very telling FMCs, or female main characters, Favorites List, but best believe Chloe has secured a shimmering spot on the higher end of that list. It could be her ridiculous joke-cracking, her mad people person skillz, her bold nature and vintage shoes, or her bright orange curls, but the fact is the package is what works. She’s talkative to a fault, friendly, and extraordinarily resilient. She’s sunshine on a rainy day and everybody unconsciously gravitates to the cheerful chatterbox toting a sack full of very big balls. Not much can throw this girl off her stride, and even when she stumbles, she’s quick to right herself and keep going, and I found myself a puddle of dazzled admiration.
Chloe isn’t the girl to wallow and burrow in deep, dark depression, no matter how difficult the hurdles. Sure, her family could be going through some serious issues, what with her grandmother getting slowly chewed up by irreversible disease, the house being mostly empty but for her with her parents’ demanding jobs and all five of her brothers away at school, and her best friends could volunteer for permanent hiatus from their friendship, but she still keeps moving. She acknowledges the hurt, takes it on the chin, cries it out, but the world does not stop and her life does not end. Her flair for the dramatic doesn’t induce eye rolls toward her situation, but adds a certain funny element to every scoop of bullshizz served up to her.
Even though, yes, she can talk anyone’s ears off and make them both want to fall off—because, hullo, chatterbox, right?—and she’s a terrible listener, in Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell she learns a little something about the world, about how it’s not always going to be set to rights, how not everyone is going to love her, how she can’t save everyone with a joke or a smile. Chloe grows up, while still staying true to the person she started with. AND I LOVED THAT. I have nothing but admiration, respect, and love for this girl with Thor-like internal muscles. I like a girl, as Duncan proclaims her, who wears her heart on her sleeve.
~Nose Ring Girl and Mr. Tool Belt equal big, red bloated hearts~
The other characters were pretty cool peeps, even Brie, the vicious, eat-your-heart-out bishy ex-friend chockfull of JEALOUSY. I couldn’t blame her for hatin’ on our girl, Chloe, because Chloe rocks, and, well, Brie does not. It’s sad and sorry to see the friendship, the love deteriorate between these two but I love the growth that resulted. And Mercedes, brainiac and mega pushover in my book, ex-bff number two, just made me mad and irritated, although I got her quietness and her lack of self-esteem. But these two didn’t help make the book for me.
Neither did Frick, Frack—I know, WHAT?—and/or Haley, though they were certainly lovely little addendums to the story. Other than Chloe, I really only FELT THINGS with Nose Ring Girl and Mr. Tool Belt. Let me explain. Nose Ring Girl, aka Clementine—and I just love people with… RICH personalities to pull off that name, is fire-breathing General Manager of Chloe’s soon-to-be radio station, and I adored her for her combatting snark, her realness, and general sense of attitude. The radio station means life, means expression to her, and exploring those fascinating layers of dislike toward Chloe and reading as they were stripped away as the story goes on, is full of snorts and guffaws because all her sarcastic banter and Chloe’s cheeky reciprocation do something wicked fun to the dialogue.
And can I get a woot-woot for Mr. Tool Belt? Let me just say that any boy described like this:
A ruddy red brushed his pale cheeks, and his thick black hair was messy, like he’d been out in the wind. A nubby scarf looped his neck. I could picture him perched alone on a rugged, windswept Scottish moor. (7%)
deserves a yes, please, and THANK YOU, GOD. Turns out the boy’s well-worth all that because his inside matches his outside. He’s sweet, shy, and terribly to himself, never opting to share with others his problems and nuisances of the days, present and past. He’s heart-achingly sad, lonely, and I loved seeing him light up under Chloe’s disarmingly extreme voltage.
~Tingling thumbs and a senior citizen’s fixation with Brad Pitt are a go~
Chloe is bold in every area of her life, it seems. Honest, straightforward, and innately confident, even in asking out the boy who makes her thumbs tingle. There’s no guile, no teasing and torturous wondering What Ifs. She just kind of plows right through without a drop of sweat to show for it. It’s hard to say no to her not because she’s insistent, but because she’s vibrant and shining and people get addicted regardless of their wariness. Including Duncan.
She gets all her awesomeness from her Grams, who’s battling Parkinson’s and isn’t altogether happy with it, OBVS. Chloe and her Grams share this irresistible understanding, and are two people guaranteed to give you a pick-me-up. They know how to comfort, what to say and how to soothe, and they’re just amazing with people. Observant, bright, and funny not just in their words but in their barrels of quirks. It’s hard not to love a woman who parks her life-size Brad Pitt on dryer number seven, the pantry, or the head of the staircase to stare at it before plopping down and checking his marital status.
~What a funk breaker~
Since I’d been away on vacation for the past few days, I didn’t have much time to read and found that when I came back, I wasn’t in the mood for AN-Y-TH-ING. I ended up randomly starting Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell, and look how well that turned out! Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell is the perfect perk job, laughter conducive, with an underlying depth and just the right amount of angstiness to tide over the rest so that it’s not all about flawless happiness and hand holding.
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell is far from peaceful, but so much fun and absolutely perfect for summer, as it’s got (unlikely) friendships, inner gooeyness-inducing kisses, all wrapped up in subtle lessons and silly excitement. I downright adore this book!
Looking for books with a similar feel, try checking out When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle and/or Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Fans of Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeithlin might also like this book.
Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 5/29/12
At first, I was not sympathetic to Chloe's plight like at all. I mean, I know how much it sucks to be friendless in high school, but she brought it on herself. When I thought her friends had just tired of dealing with her, that's what I thought. Then I learned exactly why her reputation was in tatters, and, suddenly, I totally had to hope that she recovered her status somewhat, although I still wanted her to grow up and chill out.
Despite knowing that I would totally be annoyed by Chloe if I knew her in real life, her character was very vibrant and interesting. Most of all, I loved her obsession with vintage shoes. Although I'm not a shoe person myself (I wear flip flops most of the year), that's a really neat hobby to have, and I loved how much joy she got from a pair of shoes. Plus, vintage is cool. I also like the first sentence of the book (in fact, that's one of the best first sentences I've read). When I read the opening, I thought that there was no way Coriell could convince me any self-respecting teen would enjoy a job where they had to dress up in a burrito costume. Well, she proved me wrong. Chloe totally would.
She's one of those people that you can hardly believe exists that can make anything cool, so she just does what she wants. When it comes right down to it, she's a seriously odd duck, but she does everything so passionately that she's really hard to ignore. I also liked that, once she sets her mind to something (a key element), she completely invests herself in it, whatever it is. She certainly is selfish at the outset, and still kind of at the end. However, I can see her being a good girlfriend, because she'll really want to help him, even if that means helping him with his trash job.
The whole crew at the radio station I loved. Bitchy, but good-hearted, Clementine with a fondness for beets, Frick and Frack (I want to know how they got those nicknames, and Duncan especially. I wish there had been a place like that in my high school, although there probably was and I just didn't know it. They were all outcasts, but formed their own little supportive social group. Oh, I also need to give a shout out to the awesomeness of Grams. She is completely batty, but the best kind of fictional grandma, right up there with the grandma from Stephanie Plum and from Inara Scott's Talents series.
There were a few things with which I had a bit of a problem. First off, Chloe has a really weird way of speaking that doesn't strike me as quite natural. She has invented some slang, like gossip being 'jellyfish whispers.' I'm sorry, but that's not a thing. It derived from the fact that jellyfish sting, I think, but I'm just not feeling it. Chloe also always refers to her best friends as BFs. Can you not? I feel like I would have been less irritated by BFF; I've just never heard anyone say BF, except about a boyfriend.
Though the relationship of the book was a slow-burner, it still committed one of my YA romance no-nos. Every time Chloe and Duncan (note: I hate the nickname Dunc) touch, she feels this crazy literal spark. I mean, at one point, he puts his hand on her ankle and she like freaks out mentally about how good it feels. Get over it already. I read about stuff like this all the time in YA, and I really think it's going to give people unrealistic expectation. Sure, touching someone you like or being touched by them will feel good, but I really doubt there's going to be an actual spark, unless there's static electricity in play. Also, why are his eyes silver? I keep reading YA books where people have silver or purple or something. There are plenty of colors in human eyes naturally; please use those, unless you have a way to explain it. At least say that his eyes were grey and so shiny they looked silver.
All things considered, Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe is a really great read. I know I powered through it in no time. In future, I hope to see Coriell do something even better, because I think she shows a lot of potential.