Synopsis: 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).
Review: I received a copy of this book for an honest review.
Hello? by Liza Wiemer weaves together five high school seniors’ stories about struggling in life to a brilliant ending of community.
Liza Wiemer’s five characters all had flaws. Human flaws. Tricia struggled with suicidal thoughts and discovering who she is after immense amounts of loss in a short life. Emerson wrestled with his past memories and appearances. Angie found who she is based on herself alone, not her parents. Brenda survived the toughest moment in her life. Brian went back to his roots after months of floating through life. If you can’t relate to even one of the characters in this story in some way, then talk to me and I’ll help you relate. (That sounded more threatening than I meant it to sound.)
Oh my goodness! FORMATTING! Lately books have been killing me with their amazing formats of chapters. Each character, besides Emerson and Tricia, have a specific format for their chapters. Emerson and Tricia’s chapters have the same format, but I believe it was so for a reason. <spoiler> At the end of the book, Emerson and Tricia become a couple! (Totally shipped it the entire book) My theory is since their storylines flowed together throughout the book and they end up together that Liza Wiemer purposefully used the same format as a form of foreshadowing the ending. <end spoiler> Brian’s format is pretty simple prose formatting, but to separate time gaps and ideas drawings of his pottery line are shown throughout the book. I loved having the added little extra to understand Brian more. Angie’s format is in free verse poetry form. I am pretty critical of free verse poetry formatting, let me tell you. With all of my free verse poems I keep it pretty simple with a few times playing with the layout and illustration of the words. Angie’s chapters, however, play with the imagery and the words. Everything you could ever do with free verse poetry is in the chapters it seems. I had to get used to the chapters, but by the end I read it as naturally as the regular prose formatted chapters. Finally, Brenda’s chapters. Just like Angie’s chapters, Brenda had a unique format from all the rest of them. Her chapters were written as a screenplay. (Cool fact: Liza Wiemer’s son helped her with writing Brenda’s chapters as he knows to do them.) Again, it took a while for me to get used to the formatting, but once I did… man, the pages flew by! Overall, I loved the formatting. When authors change up the formatting of the chapters, especially to separate POVs, I can’t not praise their work!
The situations Liza Wiemer placed her characters in amazed me. Normally I get annoyed if an author tries to tackle numerous serious situations in one book, but Hello? brilliantly discusses every circumstance of rape, death, suicide, accidents, love, lust, etc. Everything is talked about. By the end of the book, each character’s life looked up to a better future. I just can’t express how much I loved it.
Hello? is set in Door County, Wisconsin. I have only read one other book set in a local Wisconsin place, and it was Seventeenth Summer. I didn’t particularly enjoy that book, and I was wary of reading Hello? for a similar reason. When a book is set in a place you’ve visited or lived in numerous times, I believe the reader becomes more critical. Personally, that is why I make up towns and places when I write. Hello?, however, takes into account local places and delightfully describes the beauty of Door County. For numerous summers, Door County served as a second home when I would go camping with my family. When I read the book, the book transferred me back to those summers. Brilliant job, Liza Wiemer.
Overall, I would recommend this book to every Wisconsinite and person who has visited Door County. Then I would recommend it to everybody else! Definitely a must-read book.
Much love, XOXO,
~A Writer Named Charley~