This book exceeded my expectations. I must be on a roll these days because I have liked every book I have read thus far this month. This book is no different. When I requested this book from Netgalley, it seemed like a simple story about a girl losing her friends and finding herself while starting her own radio talk show. The cover was cute and it drew my attention from the beginning.
This story follows Chloe Camden as life as she knows it falls apart. Bubbly and optimist, Chloe is generally liked by everyone until after winter break when her friends won’t speak to her, everyone is shunning her, and her new guidance counselor decides that her JISP (Junior Independent Study Project) topic is inappropriate and she needs to start again from scratch. Add to that the fact that her grandmother’s Parkinson’s is getting worse sparking World War III between her grandmother and her mom, and it is incredibly hard for her to stay optimistic. She is forced into doing her project on the student run radio program for the school, something she has no interest in, and there, she starts to rebuild her fragmented life.
The writing and storyline of this reminded me a lot of The Boyfriend List by E Lockhart. They are both stories of girls who have friends that suddenly desert her and she is forced to take her life in a different direction than she initially thought it would go. Chloe certainly never imagined she’d start working at (and enjoying) a radio station, but she does end up loving it. I think the character I liked most was Clementine, who instantly is irritated with Chloe’s ability to “skate” through life, even though her description is not entirely accurate, Chloe does have the ability to handle people very well and therefore, most of the time, people do things for her and it makes her life easier. At first, this fact annoyed me. I see people like that all the time and for someone who works hard for everything she has, it can be frustrating seeing it getting handing to someone else without any effort. I was also irritated at her in the beginning because her friend (or ex-friend, depending on how you want to look at it) called her selfish and I couldn’t figure out if her friend was correct in that judgement and Chloe was just to narrow-minded to see it or if her friend was wrong. In the end, I think it is a little of both. Chloe isn’t necessarily selfish, but it isn’t the world’s greatest listener so I can see how she could come across that way. The more fleshed out Chloe become, the more I empathized with her and admired her a little bit. Losing all your friends is hard, and instead of rolling over and playing dead, she focuses on her JISP and trying to make the best of the radio situation and spending time with her grandmother.
Another part of her I loved is that she never came off as rich or snobby. Since both her parents are doctors, I assume she is pretty well off, but she never comes across that way. She works a part time job at Dos Hermanas Mexican Cantina to support her addiction to Twizzlers and vintage shoes and you never see her frivolously spending money. She also doesn’t look down on Duncan when she realizes that he has not one but two part time jobs after school one of which is collecting trash. Instead, she goes along with him on one of his trash collection routes and has paper airplane contests with him to improve his mood.
Shelley Coriell gave her characters real problems that aren’t just going away. Chloe watches her grandmother struggle to hold onto her independence in the face of a debilitating disease while Chloe’s mom fights to convince Gran to move in with them. The tension and fighting is never ending and though things change at the end of the novel, it remains clear that they aren’t going to sail into the sunset to a upbeat pop song, they are always going to have to struggle with it. The same goes for Duncan’s mother. I actually applaud Ms Coriell for having a meth addict character.
You see Duncan struggle with his mothers addiction, trying to hold their world together while she falls in and out of the meth world. And again, at the end, it’s not all unicorns shitting rainbows in candy mountain. Things have begun to improve, but we know that the road ahead will be a bit rocky.
This book is definitely change from the dark, brooding paranormal novels that dominate the young adult market right now and I loved every minute of it. Standalone novel with a cute dependable guy, just the right minimal amount of teen angst, and a happy end, what’s not to love?
****Thank you to ABRAMS for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****