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Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe - Shelley Coriell 2.5 starsOh, Chloe. If I came across you on a street corner (most likely while you were dressed in your burrito costume), I’d probably scurry past giving you the side-eye.But secretly I’d be wishing I’d had your kind of enthusiasm. This basically sums up my feelings about Welcome Caller This Is Chloe. It’s an earnest, fun, enthusiastic book – but, ah, not really me, as much as I wanted to love it. The story follows perpetually positive, extroverted Chloe as she stumbles down the social ladder, navigates a family battleground, deals with the deterioration of her grandmother’s health, and is compelled to join the school’s struggling radio station for an independent study project.It’s a story that trips lightly from cute and fluffy to serious with, to be honest, varying degrees of success. Illness, addiction, best friends gone MIA, persistent guidance counsellors and reticent boys all feature in plot – which is largely centred around Chloe’s personal growth and eventual epiphany about really listening to people. I found Chloe herself quite grating and unsympathetic initially, which was possibly the point. Endowed with charm, confidence and a deep belief in the power of vintage shoes, she’s occasionally over-the-top, larger-than-life, and somewhat oblivious to what’s really going on around her. As she confronts her ostracism, tackles a radio station revival, and gains a deeper insight into her own loneliness, Chloe develops into a more empathetic person – yet without losing her trademark charisma. What didn’t work for me was the romance and the slightly forced “quirkiness” - the repetition of Chloe’s various zany habits and tastes. She’s bright and bubbly and unique – I get it. On the other hand, Chloe’s characterisation as essentially a text-book extrovert, energised by social contact and struggling with those who shut her out, felt spot-on.The radio station and talk-show scenes with Chloe’s fellow 88.8 The Edge “misfits” were well done and interesting. However, by the end it did feel a little like too many storylines were being juggled, and not all played out with equal success. I feel like a narrower focus here would have strengthened the book. Welcome Caller This Is Chloe is a light read that never fully delves into the deeper issues it brings up, but it does have some genuinely entertaining and sweet moments (if a little cheesy). I don’t think it will leave a particularly deep impression, but hey, it was fun while it lasted. Anyway - here's the one thing Chloe and I have in common: Gratuitous shoe photo!