Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe - Shelley Coriell Advanced Reading CopySo many times at the bookstore, when we receive a box of ARCs, the majority of them are as interesting on the outside as brown paper parcels, which makes the few that have even temporary cover art stand out all the stronger.  I'm pleased to report my perfunctory research indicates the final art for Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe will be the same as on my ARC.  This is a perfect example of cover art that tells you a great deal about the book long before you pick it up.  The title and the old-fashioned microphone tell you "radio".  The age, clothes and hair of the cover model tell you "modern day high school".  Her hands on the headphones say "newbie to radio".  These juxtapositions were enough to jump the book right up the To Be Read pile.  And if there was any doubt, there was the opening line.  "I loved being a burrito."  Chloe is an exuberant and likeable character from page one -- and that's part of her problem.  She's such a chatterbox that she often forgets to listen, making her a touch self-centred, but no more than the average teenager.  In a way that was part of my problem with the opening premise of the book.  The book opens with the trope of the protagonist returning to school to find that she is ostracized for committing some crime in her friends' eyes.  The "crime" is revealed relatively early in the book, and I found it to be so minor that I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In fact, the steps Chloe's ex-friends take to get back at her are, to my mind, less forgivable than her original actions.  The battle with the friends takes up roughly half the story.  The other half concerns Chloe's Junior Independent Study Project, referred to as JISP throughout the book, a pass/fail project that will determine whether she gets into a good college.  The school's new guidance counsellor has withdrawn her predecessor's approval of Chloe's topic.  Chloe ends up being assigned to the school radio station for her JISP, something she and most of her classmates didn't even know existed.  Among the stations dedicated student staff, she meets Duncan, who is in many ways her opposite, quiet and private, with a strange need to fix things.  At the radio station, Chloe at first finds herself an outsider among outsiders, but it's her JISP at stake and so she turns on the charm, and the research to campaign her fellow staffers for a call in show.  With only a couple of month's funding left and the threat of closure hanging over them, they decide to put her on the air.  What sells this story are the characters, especially Chloe and Duncan. They do verge a little toward stereotype, but in a way that's more pleasant than annoying.  We've all known these types, and it's an acquaintance we're happy to renew.