Hello (From Here)

Chandler Baker and Wesley King. Dial, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-32612-1
It’s meet-cute pandemic style as Maxine “Max” Mauro and Jonah Stephens trade toilet paper for Clorox wipes the day that Los Angeles goes into lockdown. The white 17-year-olds are aware of each other’s looks and humor, but though they’re shopping at the same store, they’re entering the pandemic in different situations: Max needs the money she gets from delivering groceries to pay for college and help out her single mother—she has to go out, regardless of the risks. More privileged Jonah, meanwhile, diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and grieving the death of his mother, has to be extra careful because his sister is immunocompromised. Baker (Whisper Network, for adults) and King (Sara and the Search for Normal) set their story in the early-Covid days of uncertainty and limited information, showing different kinds of vulnerability—all while writing a satisfyingly banter-filled rom-com told in alternating voices and filled with technological workarounds to the difficulty of in-person meetings (including Max’s shopping app). While a side plot involving an old Hollywood scandal peters out, Max and Jonah’s struggles with romance, their families, and their individually complicated circumstances make for a timely story that offers a creative take on how hope and romance can persist in difficult times. Ages 12–up. Agents: (for Chandler) Daniel Lazar, Writers House; (for Wesley) Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/29/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Children's
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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