Author: Liza M. Wiemer ♥ @LizaWiemer
November 10, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Genres: Young Adult ♥ Contemporary ♥ Poetry ♥ Realistic Fiction
Summary from Goodreads: One HELLO? can change a life. One HELLO? can save a life.
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.
Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).
Average Goodreads Rating (as of 10/29/30): 4.51
- Christina thought this title was very original. It goes on her TOP SHELF. To find out why…
**SPECIAL NOTE:**An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
♥ Quick Thoughts and Rating:
4.5 shining stars! This novel was unlike anything I’ve read before. After two trusted bloggers politely pushed it on me (Thanks Lisa & Jen!) and I read so many five-star reviews for it, I went in with an unhealthy dose of high expectations, and just as much trepidation as there was excitement. Still, the story I was given was more than I realized I wanted, and yet nothing like what I expected either. It was collectively uplifting and heartbreaking, settling in all those emotional high-point nooks and crannies in-between as well.
Hello? was the touching journey of five teenagers, and how fate, the universe, or God placed them on a map of Life and chose the most opportune moments to have their paths intersect and then intertwine. It was an enduringly honest portrayal of all the beautiful and tragic, hurtful parts of humanity and the roles we fulfill in one another’s lives, both directly and indirectly. It’s a novel that I won’t soon forget.
♥ The Lowdown: Like dominoes falling in to place, five teens unknowingly already on crossed paths become forever linked through one answered phone call that saved a life and set others into motion.
Tricia has been trudging through the last five months of her life after the death of her grandmother and that only living relative she had left. She’s alive, but not really living. Her boyfriend, Brian, has been a constant at her side, but she only knows how to push him away, and now they both feel alone in the relationship. Elsewhere, Emerson is struggling in his own relationship with his girlfriend, Angie. Forever changed because of the afforded second chance at life he was given, he goes through each of his days trying to be the perfect person worthy of that blessing. Angie has her own story, too. She doesn’t want to be a product of her parents’ failures and short-comings, especially that of her abusive father locked away in prison. She once thought she could rely on a boy, but in the end, she knows she can only count on her best friend, Brenda. Brenda is busy shielding herself from her own demons, and her connection with Angie is the only reason she’s having to battle them at all.
In this novel, each character will have to face the most broken parts of themselves to be able to move on with their life. It’s in their shared connections of friendship and family that they all find that strength to start pushing forward, to start making those necessary changes to fix themselves and each other.
♥ Review: I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling to write this review. After I finished the book, the only words that kept coming to mind were “Wow!” and “What exactly did I just read?” If you’ve read any of the other countless five-star reviews that I read prior to requesting this novel, then you already know how exceptional and widely celebrated this book is throughout the blogosphere. I don’t think anything that I can say will adequately do this powerful book any sort of justice, but alas I should try.
Wiemer has given us a stellar YA debut novel. It’s a masterfully crafted book told in a unique style, delivered in alternating first-person narratives of all five main characters. However, if you’re like me and often find that multiple POV’s overwhelm you and the characters muddle in your head, don’t let that tidbit scare you off. This author managed to accomplish a feat seldom ever do when tackling so many storylines, and not only that, but she completely knocked it out of the park. Ms. Wiemer allowed her characters the space to breath and fill up the page, to become as real to me as possible, by giving each a genuine voice and a perspective format that is distinct to each individual character. Tricia and Emerson are both written in standard narrative viewpoints, while Brian the artist is accompanied with drawings, aspiring actress, Brenda, is told in a screenplay format, and Angie’s perspective is relayed through free verse poetry. She also didn’t have random, frequent jumps between the point-of-views. Each perspective transition was smooth and consistent, giving us the perfect amount of allotted time with each character to really dig into the heart of these people you’ll inevitably feel connected to, relate to, by the end.
With that said, it’s how all these storylines intersect, come together, and interlace that will really leave you in complete wonder. I had an idea of how all this would unfold from early on, and even though I was right, I still raced through the pages and sat in stunned bewilderment at how it all fell into place. It’s a poignant reminder of how we influence those close to us, and can even effect complete strangers. It shows us there’s power in being kind and caring, and that sometimes the generosity of one person can ripple outward and affect others. Yes, you are only one person, but if you have an impact on another person and they pay it forward, then you indirectly have the ability to influence many other lives. That’s significant and something that truly resonated with me. I needed that reminder and I appreciate that Wiemer offered that nudge via a very moving story.
However, I did have to deduct that half a star because there were some issues that drove me a little bonkers. Mainly, it had to do with Brian and Tricia. I can completely understand that life circumstances can have a major impact and often strain relationships, but I was a little baffled by how the demise of their relationship went down. For their love to have been so epic and long-lasting, I didn’t believe Brian’s cold-shoulder act. Even though I didn’t know his character prior to those opening scenes, it was hard for me to put aside their love story, which I had already bought into, and sympathize with how cruel he was being. I can empathize with his hurt and feelings of betrayal, but for him to have invested so much into his relationship with Tricia, for him to have loved her so immensely, I couldn’t fathom he’d ever have just dropped out of her life so quickly. Same goes for Tricia. For him to have been perceived as her one great, intended love and for him to have been begging her to see reason and to just try, I couldn’t believe how quickly she moved on and how she was immediately making an effort the second he walked out the door. This one little hangup aside, everything else in the book worked so well for me.
♥ Rec It? Absolutely! Hello? is a lovely, yet heartbreaking tale of friends, families, and strangers. With a refreshing style of narrative and authentic characterizations, this book was a page-turner from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what more this author has to offer because after this novel all her books will probably be an auto-read for me.
♥ A very special thanks to Spencer Hill Press and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.
Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.
I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥
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