Release date: November 10, 2015
Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.
Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.
Hello begins the story with a grieving Tricia, who is not able to move on from the death of her grandmother, the last of her family. Alongside her, Brian, her childhood best friend/boyfriend has also become so entangled in her grief, that he isn’t able to think for himself. At this point in her life, he is all wrong for her, because what he thinks will comfort her only causes her more pain. When he eventually breaks up with her, and she is pushed further over the edge, in a weak moment she contemplates suicide, but the guy on the other end of her grandmother’s old number stops her. Emerson, who, stuck in a pointless relationship at the time, talks her off the edge, sharing a moment in which they both unburden themselves, and setting off most of the plot arcs.
The story develops very subtly; initially you can’t see how the teens are linked, but slowly you see Angie and then Brenda, circling back to Brian. Each of the perspectives is written in a different way, with Angie in the form of poem, Brenda in the form of screenplay; those two also had slightly unreadable parts, because of the typesetting. At first, with Emerson’s POV, it is easy to dismiss Angie as a shallow airhead, but she is also broken in a way that speaks more of a childhood with a bullying adult. Brenda’s past has a dark secret, one which has not let her be free with people, not even her best friend Angie. And Brian, recently free, is coming to terms with how to move on and what to do with his life.
While some events are out of convenience (I don’t believe in serendipity, okay?) it can not be denied that the story delves into each main character very well. The writing flows well from one character perspective to another, weaving their stories together part by part. They are wholesome individuals, a little broken but good people, anyway. I would have, however, liked a little more diversity from such a beautiful book. Nevertheless, it is a really good young-adult book, and for a debut, it is impressive.
Trigger warnings: rape
Received a free galley from Spencer Hill Press via Netgalley; this does not influence my opinions or the review.