I was SO happy to get an advanced copy of this book and to be chosen as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour! Brittany Cavallaro is one of my favorite YA authors (see my reviews of A Study in Charlotte, The Last of August, and The Case for Jamie) and Emily Henry actually went to the same college as me! So when they decided to write a book together, I was HERE FOR IT. And now I’m part of the blog tour and it just fills me with so much joy. And this book is GOOD, y’all. Let’s get right to it!
Hello Girls focuses on two high school seniors who met outside their small town police station on a rainy night when they were each trying to decide if they should turn their families in. Rather than do that, they started to lean on each other, quickly becoming each other’s best friend. They have one goal in mind – Chicago. After graduation. Together.
Winona Olsen is the daughter of local weatherman Stormy Olsen and cookie heiress Katherine Pernet Olsen, meaning her life should be picture perfect, right? Well. Except that her mom disappeared many years earlier and is presumed dead but is possibly still alive and well out west. And that her paternal grandfather hates her father, who is hoping to get all of his money when he finally dies. And that her father, the local celebrity everyone loves, puts locks on the pantry door to control her eating and hurts her in places no one else can see.
Lucille Pryce has been waitressing already for five years, and for every shift, she’s squirreled away a single dollar under her bed, saving up to leave their dead end town behind. Her deadbeat mother and drug-dealing brother tend to take all of her money otherwise. But then her brother finds her stash and takes it anyway. And there’s an undercover cop sitting outside their house for days on end. And the only thing she can think of is Chicago, Chicago, Chicago. Because she’s the one who is going to break the Pryce cycle of barely scraping by in this town. She is.
One night, they realize they need to get out of town, like, yesterday. They just need some money. And a ride. And directions to Las Vegas, which is where they’re bound and determined to end up.
It’s a YA Thelma and Louise and I’M HERE FOR IT.
3 Things I Loved
- Lucille. Backbone of steel, more determined than maybe any other YA character I’ve recently read. She’s rad and I love her.
- Winona. Such a victim of circumstance, but with Lucille, she’s dynamite. I love them both individually, but it’s together that they really shine.
- Michigan. So here’s what I know about these authors that makes me love this story even more. Emily and I went to college in Michigan, and Brittany is a teacher at a private arts school in Michigan. So the state of Michigan clearly holds a very special place in their hearts, and mine. And I loved the references. I miss Michigan so much sometimes.
But my favorite easter egg was Winona’s grandfather’s name. Tryggve. Weird name, right? Well. The chapel leader at our college was named Tryggve. And I have a special place in my heart for him too.
So first, there are some serious triggers in this book. It’s YA, but it’s upper YA, similar to the Charlotte Holmes series. Recurring triggers for domestic abuse, particularly emotional and verbal abuse, and drug use. And murder. (I’m a true crime junkie, so this one didn’t hit me as hard as the others, but I’ve included it here because not everyone loves true crime like I do.) And it’s Vegas, so gambling as well.
As for dislikes and problems – well, I CLEARLY dislike both Winona and Lucille’s families. They’re fucking terrible. But that’s part of the story, and that’s life too. The only real problem I encountered is THIS BOOK IS SO WHITE. That disappointed me quite a bit, actually. I was hoping that these two would diversify things a little bit better. But the writing is really good, and while that doesn’t make up for the lack of diversity in the book itself, it made it so I didn’t notice it as much on the page and only thought about it later when I was analyzing things for this review.
That doesn’t make it better, it just made me think really hard about how normal is coded as white. But that’s a topic for a whole other blog post, probably not written by me because there are many authors of color who could do that a lot more justice. But I digress.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
The writing in this book was stellar, the characters leapt off the page, and I was so happy to be reading it (even though parts of it were fairly harrowing). I’m going to give Hello Girls a BLUE rating. But for some, it might lean lower because of the distinct lack of diversity in the characters.
Thank you to the publisher, to the Fantastic Flying Book Club, and to Edelweiss for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you thank you thank you!