Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Synopsis (via Goodreads): When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina's haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she'd hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina's family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it's spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.
"The perfect comeback only comes to you way after the offending incident, most especially when you’re alone in the shower with no one but the shampoo bottle to tell it to."
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

This was my first Emma Mills book, but I'll definitely be back for more! Lucky Caller made me feel warm and fuzzy, and avoided all of the teenage angst that I've started to associate with most YA books. The romance was soft, slow-burn, and intrinsically sweet. Jaime was definitely a cinnamon roll, and I adored everything about our Prince Hapless. The game Kingdom was epic and everything! I really loved that aspect of the story, and how fleshed out their make-believe world was.

I loved watching Nina and Jaime remember their past friendship, and how it grew into something neither of them expected. They were really close growing up (since they lived in the same building and his grandparents would watch Nina and her sisters occasionally), and I really enjoyed the games they played together on the bus! What interesting questions they had! Like... would you rather be a clown forever, or marry one? Something like that! The back-and-forth Q&A sessions had me smiling from ear to ear, particularly when one or both would defend an answer.

As they got older, an incident in middle school threw a wrench in their relationship, and I hated how hurt both parties were afterwards. Nina wasn't a mean person, but she did do something callously (as children sometimes do), and it hurt Jaime deeply. He was still a trooper though, and continued their game of Kingdom when Nina's youngest sister (Sidney) asked. He was fully committed to his role, and didn't let what happened between him and Nina alter something so fundamental about their friendship. He showed up and was there when it mattered, and he always gave 100% of himself.

Nina's family was the cat's pajamas (ignore my 20's references, I'm listening to Lair of Dreams right now)! All of their interactions felt authentic and were totally relatable. They were sarcastic with their mother, but it was playful and teasing. Respectful... but with a hint of an eye-roll. 🙄 They tormented in each other in the best ways, and it was always done out of love. They knew each other intimately, in the way only family can, and could communicate clearly with a look or simple gesture. Mills really captured the essence of family, and what it means to love and be loved by them.

The radio show was the icing on the cake for me! Initially, I didn't think I would like Joydeep's personality (annoying and ridiculous), but it meshed well with Sasha, Jaime, and Nina's. They formed an unlikely group, and bonded over shared experiences (some good, some bad). They complimented each other, and managed to work well despite their differences. Jaime is quiet and shy, but will passionately defend who/what he cares about. Sasha is athletic and self-conscious, worried about her future and enjoying her present. Nina wasn't a pushover per se, but she did tend to go with the flow and rarely made waves. Joydeep was goofy and a prankster, and his random comments always made me smile. Separately, they were interesting, but combined they were a formidable force. Their group interactions were probably my favorite parts of the book.

The Dantist! Mr. Paint! He was so nice! Like, a genuinely good person that enjoys helping others. He's not around a lot, but I liked how obvious it was that he cared. He loved Nina's mother and was invested in their lives, and he surprisingly didn't turn down our foursome's very crazy request. I'm still not sold on his story (if you've read this, you know what I'm talking about), and think there's more to him than meets the eye. Although, I do like that we were left with a little bit of a mystery surrounding him and his past. It made things more entertaining! 

It's unlikely that events would have unfolded the way they did, but I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled that everyone ended up exactly where they needed to be, and even forgive Nina's dad for flaking and being an unreliable father. They've accepted that about him, and still love him despite his flaws. They're family. It might not be perfect, but what in life is? I think Mills has captured the essence of what it means to love without reservation, and to appreciate the connections we make with other people. The time we spend together may be fleeting, but that doesn't make it any less important or meaningful.

"And my mom told me that part of growing up is just … learning that people come in and out of your life, and that there are all kinds of levels of friendship, all different types. And maybe you’ll make a friend, and you won’t see them again, but it doesn’t devalue what you had with them or the time you spent together. That’s still valid, even if it wasn’t built to last. It’s not any less … significant, you know?" (★★★★★)

11 comments:

  1. I see so many raves for Emma Mills. I know Sam adores her and loves everything she writes. And it’s always such a great feeling to try an author for the first time and know you want to read more from them. Especially when they have a lengthy backlist! :)

    Jaime sounds like such a sweetheart. I love those cinnamon roll guys! :)

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    1. She's amazing Tanya! Read one, and you will be addicted.

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    2. Yes! I love finding new authors I love, especially when they've written several books. It means I have something to look forward to, and I don't have to wait a year for it! :)

      Sam is correct! Addiction is inevitable. <3

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  2. I haven't read this author but it sounds like you enjoyed this one.

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  3. I loved every second of this book. The friendships, the family moments, the cuter than anything romance -- all was wonderful! I loved the little mystery there, and yes, Jamie was the sweetest of the sweet little cinnamon rolls. I am all giddy that you liked this book

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    1. Yes! Yes! Yes! Jaime was so stinkin' adorable! I loved that he didn't get angry or passive aggressive, he just continued to be a good person. I love the sisters and their relationship, and how Sidney and Rose had smaller problems on the back burner. It was just so... AHH. Everything. It was everything I wanted.

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  4. I identify so strongly with the quote about the perfect comeback. All my best ones have been told to the bathroom mirror, or my phone as I mutter to myself about everything I should have said.

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    1. Right?? I feel like the perfect comeback always comes when there's no longer a use for it. You can tell it to yourself or text the other person, but it's just not the same. ;)

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  5. I love Emma Mills' books - the characters always feel so real, and you're right, there's not usually a ton of drama that tends to feel so manufactured in other YA books.

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    1. Yes! I feel like some YA books have drama just for the sake of creating conflict, which I dislike. There are plenty of natural ways for problems to arise. I really loved what Mills did with both her story and the characters. <3

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless