Hello (From Here)
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hello (From Here) is a teen romance set in the early days of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles. Max is a cool, smart girl working as a personal grocery shopper to save for college and to help her mom make ends meet. Jonah is a sweet, nerdy boy coping with a serious anxiety disorder and grappling with grief over his mother's death. The two meet in a grocery store during a time of panic buying and hoarding, and they eventually begin a relationship over video and phone chat. The story not only highlights the uncertainty of living through the pandemic but also shows how teens have had an especially hard time navigating their social lives and education during the fast-changing crisis. The romance aspect isn't intense or graphic, as the couple develops their relationship over the phone and computer. There's a little strong language ("s--t," "f--k," and "ass"), but it isn't frequent. Characters drink alcohol a few times, and there's no smoking or drug use. The story offers good discussion opportunities around how to foster good communication with friends and family, how to make good choices, how people may experience grief, and how to look out for others who have medical and emotional issues.
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What's the Story?
Being a teen is hard enough in the best of times, and HELLO (FROM HERE) shows just how tough teen friendships, dating, and schooling have been for teens during the coronavirus pandemic. Max and Jonah are from vastly different worlds. Max lives with her mom in a small apartment, and they both work a lot of hours to keep afloat financially. Her distance learning is at the mercy of the intermittent Wi-Fi she steals from a neighbor, and her grocery shopping job is one car breakdown away from evaporating. Jonah's family is wealthy, and given his anxiety, he doesn't mind distance learning. He doesn't have to work or worry about his family's financial situation. That doesn't mean his life is worry free, though. His mother died suddenly a few years back, and his sister is immunocompromised and at high risk of a bad outcome if she gets COVID. The two teens meet at the grocery store when Jonah accuses Max of hoarding toilet paper, and an unlikely romance develops. The two learn a lot about themselves and the struggles of others during the early days of the pandemic. The story shows how vastly different the pandemic and sheltering in place has been for families across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Is It Any Good?
This witty, entertaining teen romance accurately depicts the ways that teens have had to figure out friendships, dating, and planning for the future during the coronavirus pandemic. Hello (From Here) has two endearing and relatable characters in Max and Jonah. Because their relationship develops over the phone and computer, the story relies a lot on their dialogue and banter, and authors Chandler Baker and Wesley King deliver the goods in this regard. We get to know these likable characters well and root for them. The story highlights many of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic: fear of loved ones' getting sick, fraught social relationships, future plans dashed, distance learning. But the authors tried too hard to cram everything in, so the story threads go off in a few too many directions. Overall, though, this is an empathetic look at kids and adults trying to do their best, and while they may not always succeed, their hearts are in the right place and they learn from their experiences.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Hello (From Here) tackles a lot of issues that have come up during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we see more stories emerge about life in that time, do you think they will help you sort through what you've been dealing with? What aspects of life in this time do you think are important for books and movies to address?
What has life during the pandemic been like for you in terms of friendships and family relationships? Have there been unexpected benefits to sheltering and long-distance learning? What has been the hardest part for you?
Many YA books deal with teens who can't see each other in person. How do you think this adds interest to the plot?
Have you taken up any new hobbies or activities since the pandemic started?
- Authors: Chandler Baker, Wesley King
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: September 7, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 7, 2021
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