Hello (From Here)
Published: September 7, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 1-7, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
A witty and thought-provoking YA love story set during the COVID-19 quarantine, written by two NYT bestselling authors, with shades of Five Feet Apart and Anna and the French Kiss .
Maxine and Jonah bump into each other in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store just as the state of California is going into lockdown, when everything changes completely. Could there be a worse time to meet? Max’s part-time job at a supermarket is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah’s preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max, Jonah, and their friends live together but apart through hijinks, humanity, and heartbreak, Hello (From Here) cuts across urgent matters much bigger than a teenage crush. Differences of class, privilege, mental health, and sacrifice are thrown into stark relief by the profound and personal stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) looks at the first two months of the quarantine and adds falling hopelessly in love to the mess.
A lot of reviews have focused on the fact that this novel came ‘too soon’ and was ‘too much’ for us still being in the COVID-19 pandemic. For those that say it was ‘too real’, this is the point of the story! The description clearly states that this takes place in the pandemic, so of course it will be the heavy focus! It’s a bit of a YA romance taking place during the pandemic. If a pandemic story will feel ‘too real’ for you, then stay away from it and any other book that may be about COVID-19!
For me I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and what Jonah and Max face was and is still happening. We just get the plus of a possible romance that may or may not bloom. This novel is about so much more than Max and Jonah: it deals with class and privilege, mental health and even the previous AIDS pandemic in the 1980s-90s.
I was not too attached to Jonah or Max, in fact I was more attached to Arlo and his story and the mystery associated with him. I was 1000% invested in Arlo. The novel handles Jonah and his anxiety and panic attacks with perfection! Max also seems real with her life situation in being of the lower middle class and having to work to help out her mother.
This is definitely a YA novel, where the characters just a bit immature for me, but I still enjoyed the novel. The grim realities of COVID-19 are also faced with hospitalization and death of characters. For some readers this could be a trigger warning as it might be a bit too much reality to happen in a fiction novel, but it is part of the pandemic we still face.
I did enjoy Hello (From Here) and listened to the audiobook version, and surprise to me when I started it: Michael Crouch is one of the narrators!!!! And I have to say I love the cover of this novel too! It’s perfect!
Hello (From Here) is recommended, though you might want to proceed with caution of the potential triggers.