Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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).
There is a saying/belief that certain people or things come into our lives for a reason. I believe that in the case of this novel, that belief completely applies. Not just for the characters within the story, but also for the reader. Hello? is the embodiment of all the many ups, downs, and life changing moments we all have experienced in our lives. Especially the transition as we cross that very unstable threshold between teen and adulthood. There are so many of us that have suffered through grief at an early age, and many others that have been hurt by those we should most be able to trust. Other times we have been in so much pain that we don’t know how to handle it. Everything begins to lose meaning and life has no purpose. We spiral out of control and into total darkness, we feel alone, scared, confused, unwanted, unloved, devastated and so many other emotions. It is upon moments and fractions of life like these that Hello? touches on, as well as the possibility of finding ourselves again, and of being happy with the help of our family, friends or something as simple as one “Hello”.
Hello? is the story of 5 high school seniors, whose lives are intertwined without any of them really knowing it yet. Tricia has already suffered the loss of her parents, and now an even bigger blow with the loss of her dear grandmother. Her boyfriend Brian has been trying his hardest to be a constant source of support for Tricia, but he doesn’t truly know how to deal with Tricia’s grief or understand that his way of trying to comfort her isn’t what Tricia needs at this moment. Tricia keeps pushing him away, resulting in both of them feeling confused, alone and empty. Emerson is dealing with his own inner demons. He is constantly trying to be perfect and worthy of having been given a second chance in life (he was almost killed when he was a small child). He is also struggling with his relationship with his girlfriend Angie. Angie is in desperate need of some self-love. There is plenty of family drama for Angie to deal with too especially because of her abusive father who is in jail. Angie doesn’t trust people and pretty much only confides in her best friend Brenda. Brenda is tortured by what happened to her when she was younger, something that is directly linked to Angie leaving Brenda unable trust or open herself up to anyone because of what she endured.
The book is written in the prospective of these 5 characters. I really liked the unique way Liza gives each of them their own voice and bit of personality by how she structures their individual chapters. Tricia and Emerson’s chapters are written the most traditionally, but you get artwork with Brian (he’s a sculptor/potter), poetry with Angie and a playwright format with Brenda’s chapters. I think that this allows for a deeper perspective on what maybe mere words on a page might not get through to a reader. For example, Brenda writes about her life as a play, as if she is a stranger looking in. She is distancing herself from her own reality. Angie writes free form poetry, giving her a depth that you might not think she has from how she is portrayed and spoken of by other characters. The story really starts to bloom for me when Tricia just can’t take it anymore and is about to go down a very dark path. She decides to make a phone call in her desperation, a call to her deceased grandmother’s cellphone. She wants a “sign”, guidance, a glimmer of light. The person that answers is Emerson. That phone call not only saves, but changes Tricia’s life. It also causes a domino affect that impacts everyone else in the story.
Liza Wiemer really captured the raw emotions of growing up. Liza writes from the heart, and creates a deeply emotional and unforgettable story about friendship, heartache, grief and everything in-between. I could not put this book down. The connections between all the characters reminded me very much of theories regarding how humans are all somehow connected, as well as the idea of soul-mates or past lives. Sometimes we might even walk by someone, be connected to them but only find out much further in the future, or sometimes we feel such a strong urge/draw to certain people and can’t hold back wanting to reach out and connect with them. I am a big believer in soul mates (not just in love, but also in friendship) and I can definitely say I have experienced this theory and sensation in my own life. It’s quite a beautiful thing to find people you connect with so deeply that it feels like you have known them all your life, like you are “coming home”. This is how I think Tricia and Emerson felt when they started talking during that fated phone call, probably one of my favorite parts of the book.
Liza Wiemer has written a gorgeous debut novel. It left me in total awe and wonder. She managed to perfectly keep all the perspectives interlaced and smoothly coming in and out of one another allowing the story to glide. I was moved to tears but also laughed and rejoiced with her characters as they each faced the darkest parts of themselves, pushed on ahead and conquered their own individual demons. This novel filled me with hope, it reminded me of my own personal struggles that I have experienced and also conquered. I loved reading Hello? and I if I could I would buy everyone a copy so they too could experience the journey that I went on while reading it. My love for this book is probably what made this review so hard to write. There just doesn’t seem to be enough words (or words that are worthy enough) to express how much I enjoyed this book. Hello? touches upon everything a person could want in a study of human emotion and connectivity. It shows us the power of human connection, friendship, family and love. It is honest and true. It doesn’t sugar coat anything and will cause the reader to FEEL, and I don’t mean like “the Feels” but actual gut-wrenching true FEELS. There is at least one subject matter if not many that at one point or another every reader has experienced in their own lives. It will TOUCH your soul in so many different ways.I love that the story inspires us to reach out to one another more, to check in with friends and family, to make that much-needed phone call. You never know what it could lead to, what it could stop or bring forth. The power and potential of one simple Hello.
**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**