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True story: I almost passed on this book, and I am SO glad that I didn't. When I requested Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe on NetGalley, I still wasn't for sure if I was going to like it, but within the first two or three chapters, I knew that author Shelley Coriell had delivered a quirky, emotional, and fabulous debut novel.
Chloe is a joy to read about! As the synopsis says, Chloe falls on hard times coming back to school after winter break. Her two BF's (best friends) Brie and Mercedes have abandoned her, and I have to say, it was difficult watching that storyline play out. Chloe is a bit clueless at times, and so it took her awhile to see how deeply she had hurt Brie, but at the same time, their strained friendships lead Chloe to KDRS The Edge (the job experience project her counselor forces her into), new friends, and some self-growth. Chloe is endearing but rather used to her persona - Queen Chloe - and having things fall into place for her. Over the rocky and fascinating course of Welcome Caller, This is Chloe, Chloe has to grow as a person. While staying innately the same, Chloe learns to broaden her horizons, her ideals about friendship, and most importantly, she learns how to really listen to what others have to say.
Shelley Coriell does an amazing job of creating romantic tension between Chloe and Duncan Moore, the troubled loner who works at the station as handy-man and boards operator. I was cheering for Duncan and Chloe right from the beginning, though they certainly ran into their fair share of obstacles. Duncan's home life is the worst imaginable, yet he's still kind, but has his flaws - he isn't perfect, and he's eventually forced to acknowledge his faults. The conflict between Duncan and Chloe, who's dealing with her own issues within her family, is brilliantly done.
In Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe, we also meet several entertaining and unforgettable secondary characters, ranging from Clem, the radio station manager to Haley, the pregnant teen with her own story, to Chloe's Grams, in her eighties and still crushing on Brad Pitt. Grams has taught Chloe a lot and still has more wisdom to dole out over the course of Welcome Caller, including when and how to listen, instead of filling the silence with words. Grams and Chloe's interaction had me giggling at some points, and sobering up at others.
Overall this was an entirely adorable novel, with pockets of character growth that really made this an enjoyable read. I would have liked to see a bit more self-realization on Chloe's part, since it did sometimes feel like no matter what, she landed on her feet, and of course, I wanted more Duncan and Chloe. I wish Chloe's family (mainly her dad and her brothers) could have been involved more; instead, they were only mentioned a few times and never actually appeared in the book. I did really, greatly enjoy seeing Chloe on the air, and watching her go from invader to friend with the KDRS staff, and Welcome Caller, This Is Chloe is cute and funny, and certainly not to be missed!