by Liza Wiemer
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary (November 10, 2015)
Goodreads | Amazon
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).
Becca: IS IT ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR???? See, what I did? Lionel Richie. Hahaha
Andye: EVERY TIME I HEAR THAT (Adele) SONG, that’s what I think of.
Becca: Me too!
So reading a book that a friend has written is always a daunting task. What if you don’t like it? What do you say to them? HOW do you say it? I was freaking out when I first picked it up, because I’ve been in such a slump this year with reading, but it turned out that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. HELLO? is the book that brought me out of that epic slump.
It. Blew. Me. Away.
A: TELL ME ABOUT IT!! I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared to read a book. Liza is a dear, dear friend of mine too, and I just thought, this could go horribly wrong. BUT, I had nothing to worry about. This was one of the most originally crafted books I’ve ever read in my life. Incredible.
When Liza told me that the story was going to be told by five different characters, and that those characters would tell their stories in different forms, from prose to screenplays, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
B: Yeah. That was my worry too. Sometimes when I read books like that, it just doesn’t work out. I had the same worry with Illuminae.
A: I was especially worried about the screenplay part. I mean, how does Liza know how to write a screenplay? And poetry? But it was SO COOL!!
B: She googled. Hahahaha. I don’t know. I’ve never read a screenplay or anything, but Liza needs to start writing all the time for movies or something, because SHE TOTALLY ROCKED IT. She’s a screenplay/poetry/fiction-writing GENIUS.
A: Agree. And how about that story! So many different threads to follow, and figure out how they all tie together. It was so awesome to see all the ways the lives of these five teens intersected. And at just the right moments. Fate?
B: This book made me believe in Fate. Destiny. Whatever. Truly incredible. I had no idea how this story was going to take off, but right away, from that very first page, I was HOOKED. Line and sinker.
A: Yeah, and the tension of WHEN IS EMERSON GOING TO SEE HER IRL???? Ugh. Just stab me in the heart.
B: THE FEELS! I feel like this would be translated really well in a movie. It just sounds like something I would want to go to the theatre and watch, ya know? I mean, what are the chances of you calling your dead grandmother’s old number, and a sweet, considerate, smoking-hot guy picks up that actually has a heart and talks to you? IT PUNCHED ME IN THE FEELS. And when they decide NOT to talk EVER again, and she wants him to CHANGE HIS NUMBER?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? NOOOOOOOOO. I may have wanted to cry at that moment. Or maybe I did cry.
A: YES! That was SO hard for me. I had to actually have a conversation with myself and tell myself that Tricia needed to find herself before she could be with another guy. Or else she’d never really heal (as much as possible) and grow. But, HOW? How do you let a guy like Emerson go, never knowing if you’ll ever talk to him again? I couldn’t do it.
B: I couldn’t either. She was going through so much, and she needed someone to talk to about it, without smothering her like Brian was doing all that time. But I think she was just scared. She finally found her way of expressing what she was feeling, and the one person who actually listens...and she pushes him away? I think that was a spur of the moment decision from being scared, because I could tell she questioned it afterwards. WHO WOULDN’T? It was just one of those things that she wasn’t expecting, and sometimes the things you least expect are some of the scariest, but also the best.
A: You said it perfectly! I wonder if she was scared of putting her trust in another guy, also, after the way Brian responded. And speaking of Brian, it was so interesting, seeing him through Tricia’s eyes, and being so annoyed with him. But then we get a chapter from him and I ended up really feeling for him. That was one of the things I loved most about this book. It’s really easy to judge a person, and assume things about him when you don’t know what’s going on in his head.
B: Agreed!! I’m not going to lie. I thought Brian was a total douche canoe at first. Haha. But then, we get the chance to jump inside his head and his feelings, and wow. I completely understood why he was acting the way he was. He was in a very difficult position, and he handled it the only way he knew how. It’s fascinating how much we start to judge a person by what someone else feels/thinks about them before we get their side of the story, and I felt like that was a great moral for the entire book.
A: I had the same reaction with Angie. I seriously hated that girl! And even though she still probably wouldn’t be my favorite person in real life, reading from her point of view softened my heart to her. And so many people have actually connected with her. It’s crazy!
B: Yes! I did too. She was one of those girls that just drives you nuts by the way she was acting. I understood that she knew she was losing Emerson, but all the things that she was doing to try to ‘save’ their relationship made me feel so bad for her. I would never do some of the things she did, but I remember being that age and feeling so out of control of a failing relationship that I was willing to do whatever crazy thing I could imagine to try to save it. I connected with Angie, but it took me a bit to get to that point.
A: It was also really amazing to see the different ways that different relationships develop. And how one person can basically be toxic in one relationship, but perfect for another. Especially if they’ve learned from the relationships that failed.
B: Totally agree! It was fantastic to watch that other relationship unfold, and I’m not going to lie, even though she wasn’t my favorite at the beginning, I totes shipped it.
A: ME TOO!!
Then there was the setting! I feel like it almost took on its own personality. I seriously want to visit and explore all the places that were in the book. The ferry, the lighthouse, and the entire town!
B: Yes!!! I loved all of it! I also loved how Tricia started transforming not only her emotions about everything after she talked with Emerson, but then she started on the house, and truly began to heal. Although, I’ll admit my heart broke for Brian when he saw that she was healing way better without him than she was with him. I almost wanted them to get back together because I wanted him to have his happy ending too, buuuuut they were toxic together, and Emerson is Happily Ever After material.
A: I have to say I didn’t even have a little tiny part of me that wanted Brian and Tricia to get back together. I was like GO AWAY AND MAKE ROOM FOR EMERSON! But I guess we can’t tell people how that worked out…
B: Yeah, no spoilers. Haha. But I said ALMOST wanted. That means only a teeny tiny part. Haha. I loved seeing him heal too, though. He stopped doing something he was incredibly passionate about to try to help Tricia, and all it did was cause destruction. I was glad that he was able to find his way back to himself, even if he wasn’t able to save who he cared the most about.
A: I loved all the different artistic interests that were presented in this story too. I mean Brian sculpts (there are pics of his art in the book), Brenda writes screenplays, Angie writes poetry, Emerson obviously reads. And the way each of these things were incorporated in the actual storytelling was so cool.
B: INCREDIBLY cool. I also personally loved all of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes at the beginning of every chapter. I think that just brought even more substance to the overall story, and I adore that Emerson’s mom named him after RWE.
A: *Sighs* I just want to read it all over again!
B: Same! It’s actually sitting on my desk, right in front of me, and taunting me to re-read. All of this discussion makes me want to drive to all of my local bookstores and put copies of Hello? in every single person’s cart. Because that’s how I roll. And EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD NEEDS TO READ THIS. It is a life-changing book.
A: Haha! I definitely want to do the SAME thing! If I love a book I’m constantly putting it out front for the world to see. I guess we have our mission. Let’s get busy!
B: Let me get my keys…..
A: WORLD! If you haven’t read this book yet, GET ON IT!
B: SECONDED. If you read ONE book this year, HELLO? NEEDS TO BE THAT BOOK.
A: Book Doppelgangers: ??
A: I did kind of think of WE WERE LIARS. But without the heart-ripping-out-ending.
B: I hated We Were Liars. haha. I was thinking maybe Everything, Everything because it has a WTF ending, and it has drawings, dictionary words with new meanings, etc. It tells the story in the exact vein that Liza incredibly pulls off with Hello? and they both rocked me to the core of my feels.
A: Oooh, yeah! That fits!
A: 6 Stars?
B: Without a doubt, it is definitely 6 SPARKLING STARS. If this conversation doesn’t make people want to read this phenomenal book, then I have no idea what will (besides them accidentally buying it because we pushed it into their book cart). bahahaha