A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Literary references, especially Emily Dickinson. Insight into what it's like to live with an anxiety disorder. Story shows how difficult life has been during the pandemic for people with immune issues and for frontline workers. Discussion of AIDS epidemic, what times were like for gay men during that era.
You don't have to deal with hard times on your own. It's OK to open up to other people about your problems: to a therapist, a friend, family members. It can be hard to figure out how to be a good friend; sometimes it just means listening, letting the other person know they're not alone. You can't tell how easy or hard a person's life is from the outside; many battle private issues. Sometimes you must learn to live with consequences of your actions and grow from the experience. Cultivating and maintaining friendships is good for your mental health. You don't have to hang out in person to have a solid relationship.
Positive Role Models
Max has a lot on her plate and handles it with maturity. She's strong and smart. Jonah is a sweet, smart, funny kid. Even though he doesn't always make the best decisions, his heart usually is in the right place. He's too lost in his grief to see the hurt of those around him, but he matures. Secondary characters, Max's and Jonah's friends and family, are generally good, ethical, supportive people without a lot of flaws.
Max and her friends are strong, positive female role models. Jonah and Max are presented as White. The story has four gay characters, friends of Max's and Jonah's. It's implied that Max's friends Dannie and Imani are women of color, possibly South Asian and Black. LGBTQ+ issues are mentioned but are not central to the plot. Shows how different distance learning and financial security have been during the coronavirus pandemic for higher- and lower-income families.
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Violence & Scariness
Character twists his ankle. Adult accidentally kicks a teen in the leg hard. Fatal car crash mentioned but not described. Story depicts some illness and death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Story is a romance, so discussions of dating, attraction, desire come into play, but most is mild and not descriptive. Central romance is chaste because of the coronavirus pandemic's social distancing. Teen kisses another teen once. Character describes seeing two teens making out naked.
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Infrequent strong language, including "s--t" and variations, "f--k," "a--hole," "ass," "d--k," "suck," "god," "balls," and "damn."
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Products & Purchases
Brands and media mentioned for scene setting, including YouTube, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, Alexa, Venmo, Uber, Vons supermarket, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, AirPods, Clorox, Lysol, and Windex.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One scene of a teen drinking until he's almost drunk. Two adults have wine with dinner. A few teens have alcohol on a boat. No smoking or drug use.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.