Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Release date: May 1, 2012
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I wasn't going to a post my review for Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe right away, because I have so much going on right now. But, I found that I couldn't stop thinking about it, and all I wanted to do was write about it, so here I am, posting a review, anyway.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.
Let me preface my review by saying this: I have been in a major reading slump lately. Granted, I haven't been spending much time reading for fun because of work and school, but the things that I have been reading for fun lately just haven't struck a chord with me. I've sort of liked some of them, but I've disliked the majority of them.
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe is not one of those books I've disliked, and it's not one of those books I've sort of like. I loved every word of Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe. It is contemporary perfection. Shelley Corriell did a masterful job with her debut novel. Her characters are well-developed, three dimensional characters. They have flaws, but they have their good qualities. These things are not true just for Chloe. They are also true for Clem, Duncan, Haley, and all the other characters we come to know intimately through Chloe's eyes. On top of that, they were all likeable characters, especially Chloe, who, with her vintage shoes, love of Mexican food (she is a girl after my own heart!), and compassion, is downright loveable.
The plot is just as complex as the characters, and every plot and subplot is seamlessly woven together as Chloe experiences the ups and downs of life. I love it that Chloe isn't a stagnant character; she grows and develops continually throughout the novel, and though things don't always go the way she wants to them, she is able to accept them and work with them to the best of her ability.
Despite all of this amazingness, I do have one complaint about this book: words that are not properly used, one word (and its plural) form in particular. The words?
Chili and chilies.
As a native New Mexican, seeing those words improperly used drove. Me. Crazy.
I will explain with pictures.
Image source: Dean Moeller's Blog
Image source: kattz*cottage
Chili does not equal chile, and the chile Shelley Coriell writes about in Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe, is chile. The green stuff. The delicious, amazing, best thing in the world green stuff. Also, for the record, it is always "chile" and never "chiles"--unless you're talking about the now-defunct soccer team, the New Mexico Chiles.
Image source: Mascotdb
It's a minor detail, and certainly didn't prevent me from loving the book. But there is a difference between chili and chile, and it is one of my goals in life to make people understand this difference (and has been for a long time).
Also, I noticed that in the scene where Chloe talks about roasting green chile, Corriell doesn't describe the smell of roasting green chile at all. Does she have the same problem I have with trying to describe the smell of roasting green chile? I've tried and tried, but my conclusion is: it's impossible to adequately describe the way roasting green chile smells. I kind of feel like it sucks to be every reader who gets to that scene and can't imagine the way roasting green chile smells, and at the same time, I am so glad I know what it smells like, because when I read that scene, I thought:
"OMG, thank goodness roasting green chile season is almost here!!!!" Yes, we have a "roasting green chile" season in New Mexico. Every August. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I really wish everyone who reads this book could know what roasting green chile smells like. And what green chile tastes like, for that matter. Y'all are missing out.
My final reason why this book is so amazing: it has inspired me to start writing again. I know I've said that about YA books before, and I mean it every time. I have so much appreciation for the YA books that inspire me and make me want to start writing again.
Oh, one other disappointment: That this is Shelley Coriell's debut novel, because now I have to wait for who knows how long to read her next book, and I am not a patient person. I want to read her next book, and I want to read it NOW.
This is definitely going down as one of my favorite books of the year. If you haven't read it yet, you need to read immediately.